Would a time-tested method that helps to address holiday blues in advance interest you? You’re not alone. What is traditionally a season of good cheer for many people is a time of despair, loneliness and escalating stress.
If something is not quite right in your world, advance planning may help resist the temptation to isolate until after the New Year.
People Hit Hardest by Holiday Blues
Experts agree that certain groups of people are hit hardest by holiday blues:
1. The elderly
2. People suffering chronic pain or long term illnesses
3. Single persons living alone, especially when far away from family
4. Those who have recently lost loved ones.
Prevent Holiday Blues before they Begin
If you’re able-bodied, consider volunteering. Volunteers are especially needed during the holiday season. A rewarding part of being single is being free to give of your time. More time spent in helping others, leaves less time to wallow in self-pity.
Spend time with the elderly, adopt a needy child for the season or help a single mother give her children a better Christmas.
For people grieving the loss of loved ones, holidays bring back painful memories. Instead of dwelling on painful memories, try to celebrate the memory and life of that person.
Dig out photo albums and treasured mementos that remind you of your loved one. Promise yourself to concentrate on one happy event the two of you shared every day during the holiday season.
Relive vacations, anniversaries and celebrations in your mind. Ask yourself this vital question: “Would ______ want me to stop living?”
Nobody said it would be easy, but it is possible to get through the season, even if you must excuse yourself during the festivities to shed a few healing tears.
Elderly people and those in chronic pain or suffering long term illnesses will benefit greatly from a little tenderness during the holidays.
Until a thousand-plus miles separated the two of us, my daughter and I habitually cooked two Thanksgiving meals. We would deliver one to the local hospital’s cancer floor, along with a tray of goodies for the nurse’s station.
It wasn’t necessary to know who would enjoy the Thanksgiving dinner. Both of us only felt the necessity to serve as good stewards during the season of giving.
Time-Tested Tips to Cope with Holiday Depression and Stress
1. Do you have a support system? Is there someone you can call on to help you cope with holiday blues in advance?
2. Try to give up any notion that you can control your family. If Uncle Dan drinks too much or cousin Jennifer gossips about family members who are out of hearing range – borrow a valuable lesson I learned in Adult Children of Alcoholics – as often as it takes affirm, “I am not manager of the Universe.”
3. Stay on your healthy way of eating. Too much sugar, too many fatty foods contribute to holiday stress.
4. Don’t overspend on presents for other people. Can you make anything? Others appreciate a gift that comes from your heart. And you won’t be faced with post-holiday credit card bills due to excessive spending.
5. Pamper yourself. During the year, set a little money aside to splurge on a present for you. What have you gazed fondly at in the store window? Would a manicure elevate your holiday cheer?
6. Do you have a church home? Check out holiday activities and promise yourself to show-up, for at least one. Any activity that gets you outside yourself and among caring people will address the holiday blues in advance.
There is no quick remedy for holiday blues. Give yourself permission to feel the way you feel; feelings of loss, loneliness, depression, chronic pain or illness are valid. If at all possible, share your feelings with someone who cares. Stay in the precious, present moment. Celebrate the moment and the next and the next.
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