CHRISTMAS DOESN'T HAVE TO BE SRESSFUL
How to Stop the Holiday Blues With These Holiday Blues Busters
"Tis the season to be jolly" or is it? The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time of year, filled with hope for the future and optimism for humanity. With movies like "Miracle on 34th St," "White Christmas," and "A Christmas Story" beaming holiday cheer into our houses and memories of childhood dreams during this time of year, many people aren't happy and feel more like Charlie Brown - "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (without the optimism) or George Bailey from "It's A Wonderful Life" (without the happy ending).
Holiday Depression, better known as "the holiday blues," is real and it affects quite a number of people every year. The symptoms are wide and varied and can be brought on by the stress, fatigue and the tension that often occur during the holiday season.
"I'll Be Home for Christmas," "I'll Have a Blue Christmas" and other songs filled with sadness at not being with family and friends during the holiday season do not touch the depth of despair that can take place, especially during December, a month that seems to be filled with a lot of hustle and bustle as well as "joy of the season."
There are several obvious reasons for "the holiday blues" or "holiday depression syndrome," such as being without family or friends, being with family that you have difficulty with, insecurity and anxiety about the future and finances, feelings of inadequacy, sadness over not having met goals you wished to obtain, as well as over committing your time.
How can you help alleviate the holiday blues and depression that plagues many people during this time of year?
First, it's important to understand that you are not alone in the way you feel. Statistically, millions of people every year feel exactly the way you do. Some people may even be to the point of uncontrollable weeping and a feeling of severe loneliness.
These may even be the same people surrounding you with huge smiles on their faces in public or the ones who seem to have everything, including what appears to be a great family.
The next step to help ease the holiday blues symptoms is to avoid instant gratification of any kind. Instant gratification is like sugar is to a diabetic. It will bring you up quickly and then drop you down even faster with devastating, maybe even disastrous, results.
Take your vitamins. Go to your local health food store to find out what will work best for you. B vitamins are great for stress relief, as is Theanine, which is an amino acid and can be found in green tea. Both can act as calming agents. Do not take any supplements without the express advice and approval of your doctor.
Whatever you do, forget about comparing the past with the present. What do I mean by that? I am talking about spending time remembering the way things used to be during happier times and how bad they appear to be today.
The more you focus on the negative, the more negative you will feel. Try to find something positive to focus on every day and write it down. Keep a list and make a copy to post on the mirror in your bathroom, on the refrigerator door and in your car to name a few places. Read the list aloud to yourself several times a day.
Focusing on the positive things, even if there are only one or two things you can come up with, such as you have a pleasant smile, nice hands or you have a car to drive and a roof over your head, will help you retrain your brain chemicals to flow in a more positive and happy light.
Keep your activities and expectations realistic. Don't overbook yourself. If you have nothing to do, get involved, but pace yourself! Many activities can help you with the "holiday blues syndrome."
Let me name a few:
Become involved in a local charity group or outreach program. There is Make-A-Wish, The Salvation Army, Jaycees, The Red Cross and many soup kitchens around your area. You can check my website: Christmas With Love for a more extensive list of organizations you can provide your services to. Helping others will help you feel better about yourself and change your outlook on life. Make this a permanent habit and reap rewards in your emotional state forever.
Exercise. Exercise has been proven to release natural hormones called endorphins into the human body. Endorphins help to make people happier. You will also reap the benefits of becoming healthier with the added advantage of extra energy that is always a bonus. Why not make this a permanent part of your daily routine?
Join a social club or group. Why be alone when you don't have to be? Use the Internet to find clubs in your area. I list many ideas in my book, Winning Points With The Love in Your Life One Touchdown at a Time: How to Score for Men and Women, but here are a few search terms to get you started. Outdoor club, dinner club, ballet club, book club, board game club, water-ski club and snow club, etc.
There is another reason why so many people may get the holiday blues around this time of year and that can be a direct result of the sun. There is a disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D. This is the consequence of less available hours of sunlight as the days become shorter during the winter months. Check with your doctor to see if phototherapy is something that may help you.
One final note: It is always best, if you can afford it, to seek out qualified, professional help. A good professional can help determine if your depression is only a temporary symptom due to holiday stressors or a deeper issue that may require medication.
If you can't afford a professional and you do not have insurance, confide in a close and trustworthy friend until you can find help that comes without cost. The most important thing to do is to recognize that you aren't happy and become proactive in your treatment and changing your life.
Nothing will change if you sit alone in your room. Do you remember the song from "Santa Claus is Coming To Town?" "Put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking out the door." That's exactly what you need to do in order to succeed in losing the holiday blues and putting a smile back on your face and back into your heart.