Beat The Holiday Blues This Christmas
Follow these expert tips to drive away the seasonal stresses and have yourself a wonderful white Christmas
With the festivities just around the corner, the music blasting in the malls continuously remind us that “Tis the season to be jolly!” There’s so much to adore about the end-of-year holidays: catching up with friends and family over (one too many) Christmas parties, the excitement of gift exchanges, and oh the mouth-watering treats!
But along with the celebrations come the added stresses associated with Christmas, and in some cases, depression creeps in. Many people who experience it dread the season because they feel overwhelmed by the accompanying to-do lists (decorating the house, buying and wrapping presents, hosting parties, baking with the kids and so on).
Ironically, this joyful holiday season also tends to bring on the worst bouts of loneliness for some, especially those who are still grieving for the loved ones they’ve lost. Statistics from the National Institute of Health point to Christmas as the time of year when people experience the highest incidences of depression.
The holidays are a chaotic time for most folks, so remember to be kind to yourself. During this period, self-care is more important than ever as it helps to disrupt negative thinking patterns. Give yourself the same compassion you would offer a friend and discover what you need by listening to your thoughts and feelings. Here are some useful measures you can take to cope with the holiday blues:
Write about your feelings
Consecutively journal your feelings for three to four days, asking yourself questions such as “Why does this upset me so much?” or “What would I like to see happen?” Professor Darlene Mininni, author of The Emotional Toolkit, explains, “Writing about your holiday blues can actually change them. This is because people who write about their deepest feelings when they’re upset are less depressed, less anxious and more positive about life, than people who write about mundane things.”
It’s perfectly alright to feel like you can’t get through one more holiday gathering. It’s ok to choose to sit them out. Many people dread the holidays because of the seemingly endless work functions they have to attend. Professor David Baron, author of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, advises, “If you feel politically obligated to go to an office party, go for a few minutes and make sure the boss sees you. Wish your colleagues a happy holiday and say you have another commitment.”
Avoid “Aunty Mary”
We all know an “Aunty Mary” – the family busybody who never fails to hurl endless questions about when you’re going to “settle down” or when the pitter patter of little feet are coming. “Look at how to protect yourself from the energy vampires of the holiday season who deplete your holiday energy reserve,” suggests Judith Orloff, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles and the author of Positive Energy. These include the drama queens, sob sisters, and criticisers. “Try and be around positive people. If you know that Aunty Mary is almost certain to suddenly launch into her usual tirade during dinner, stake out a seat early so you don’t have to sit next to her.”
If there seems to be no way out and you anticipate upcoming conflict, prepare a neutral response such as “Let’s talk about that another time,” or “I can see how you would feel that way,” advises Jeffrey Greeson, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C. Have a plan of escape (such as escaping to the kitchen to offer help or excusing yourself to go to the bathroom). And always have a buddy on speed dial if you need a sympathetic ear!