Thanksgiving is now in the rear view mirror with Christmas nearing the horizon. There are only 33 days until 2016. The thought of the holiday season means different things to people across the globe. For some, this time of the year centers on religious practices and/or decorations and gifts, but for a vast number of others, holidays are constant reminders of loved ones who have passed on. Whether stress surrounding family feuds and visits, typical burnout or end of the year regret, the holidays can be a challenge as people work to conquer the holiday blues and seasonal depression.
The holiday blues and depression are not the same concerns, but the blues have the ability to propel people down a spiraling decline if not caught in time. The season between Thanksgiving and New Years are often associated with parties, feasts, renewing old acquaintances, buying gifts and making New Year’s resolutions. This can be a wonderful time of the year, but far too often the joyous times displayed on television are nothing but an illusion for many who face a very different reality.
Speaking of anything remotely negative during this season can seem like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but bringing awareness to the darker side of the holiday experience can be enough to help others conquer the holiday blues and depression. Complete with the sense of isolation, mid-winter depression, shopping wars, disappointments, family fights, and alcoholic outburst, this season can become a nightmare for people. The pressures surrounding the season can be enough to steal the joy and satisfaction of the holiday.
This season should be about good will toward men, reflection, and joy, not stress and heartache. Depression, however, is a very serious issue and thankfully mental health professionals and medical specialists have many effective ways to help people curb depression. However, if a person is simply trying to avoid the gloom associated with this time of year, before being swept away with all the chaos, decorations and commercials here are a few ways to beat the holiday blues before they can claim the victory.
- Be Realistic: There are many customary films filled with images of families singing, chatting fireside and spending quality time together. These are paid actors; in the real word, this is not always the case and family time may not be that simple. Although these can serve as great motivators, it is unrealistic to allow fictional characters reading a script to be considered the absolute standard. Hot cocoa does not melt away family challenges simply because it is the holiday season.
- Avoid Emotional Roller Coasters: Family time often comes with drama and there is not much that can be done about it. This is not the season to attempt to change people or even address issues that are outside of one’s control. Skip the draining conversations and instead find neutral subjects to agree upon and shelf the rest for a more appropriate time.
- Be Smart With Finances: This time of year has statistically landed people in unnecessary debt. Exercise discipline when shopping and refuse to allow the pressure of spending to compensate for issues in other areas of life. There is no need to try to impress others with a false sense of importance. Utilize restraint and avoid future financial woes which are sure to unveil in the coming year.
Take some time to mentally prepare for the season with these helpful hints to avoid the holiday blues and temporal depression. However, do not avoid real issues by attempting to apply these tips instead of seeing a professional. The bluesy feelings could be the result of Recurrent Depression with Seasonal Pattern or another psychological cause. If the feelings persist or a recognizable pattern exists, make an appoint to see the doctor.
There are many causes for the holiday blues such as personal grief, current events, illness, loneliness, economic stressors, relationship failures or separation of family. Attempting to skip the holidays entirely is not the solution, instead there are strategies which can be adopted in order to minimize the negative aspects of the season. Regardless of how great a person’s family is, the holidays are sure to bring up some challenges. Refuse to allow seasonal blues to replace the possibility of joy and good cheer for which the season is intended.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
NAMI: Beat Back the Holiday Blues
Top Image Courtesy of John Keogh – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of Patrick Marioné – Flickr License
Featured Image Courtesy of Loren Javier – Flickr License