While most are decking the halls with boughs of holly, for some, tis the season that’s not so jolly. There is something about Christmas and the coming of a New Year that heightens our emotions as the day approaches. For those who experience clinical depression, their symptoms may become amplified and those who are normally filled with cheer are riddled with sadness, anxiety and fear. Maybe it’s the fact that stores display decorations before our Thanksgiving meals are digested or that we can’t watch television or turn on the radio without being hit with reminders of the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you are dreading being single for another holiday, suffering through a recent breakup, coping with the loss of a Loved one, estranged or separated from family during this time, you CAN get through these days and you WILL. I know that to be possible because I have cried through countless Christmases before I learned how to avoid triggers and make the most of my day. How did I do that? Well, check out the list below. I hope that it sheds some light on what may be a dark time for you.
1.) Wrap Up The Guilt: Do NOT feel guilty for feeling down. It’s easy to feel pressured into pretending to be okay to avoid being a Negative Nancy when those around you appear to be happy. One of the sure ways to get through certain feelings is to face them head on no matter how challenging or uncomfortable it may be. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a future meltdown. FEEL. DEAL. HEAL.
2.) Indulge: Okay, so facing your feelings in that moment may not be your thing, I get that. There was a time when it wasn’t my thing either. I remember my first Christmas alone while away at college and I used the h e double hockey sticks out of this method. BET blessed my life by running a day long marathon of my then favorite show, The Game (you know, in 2009 when the show was actually worth watching *deep longing sigh*) and I watched every. single. episode. I cooked my favorite meal and washed it down with my favorite wine and found myself in complete peace. Not only was I a full time student at the time, I also worked two full time jobs and couldn’t remember the last time I was able to cook a meal or relax so a day to myself was just what the doctor ordered. What do YOU need that you can’t or don’t normally make the time for? What do YOU want that you’ve been putting off? Whatever it may be, indulge! Book that spa day, read the book or get those shoes, girl!
3.) Forget Facebook: along with Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Social networks can be triggering on a regular day but logging on during the holidays, especially Christmas, can be overwhelming. If you can handle it, have it but the key here is to avoid comparison. In this day, people are obsessed with comparing their lives to what they THINK someone else’s life APPEARS to be. It’s easy to scroll through post after post feeling sorry for yourself and wondering “why not me?” but hard to pick yourself up after you’ve let those thoughts weigh you down. So WHAT Tanesha TBirdThatsJustMyBabyDaddy Jones got her daughter the doll you couldn’t afford to buy for yours. So WHAT Shanika ImBaddYouMadd Myer’s dope dealing boyfriend bought her a Beamer and took her on a trip. So WHAT your former classmate got engaged. Good for them! It may be helpful to write a gratitude list of the things you’ve accomplished or the awesome things that happened to you through the year so that you can be reminded that good things DO happen for you too.
4.) Gift of Giving: Gifts don’t always come wrapped in a big red bow, you can gift your time or things you no longer find useful. Volunteer to serve at a soup kitchen/shelter or prepare your own meal and go out to feed those suffering homelessness. You can use the opportunity to give out blankets or blessing bags (A Blessing Bag is a bag of essentials that can range from toiletries, hats/gloves to bus fare, a change of clothes or even an old pay as you go phone that you aren’t using. Get creative!). Those clothes you haven’t worn in years? Take them to a women’s shelter. The toys your kids played with a few times and haven’t picked up since LAST Christmas? Take those to the women’s shelter too! Shelter’s are filled with children who would appreciate those gifts as if they were new. Place calls to the elderly and check on the forgotten. You’d be amazed by how much making someone’s day can make your day.
5.) Work it, girl: Instead of sitting at home dwelling with the ghost of Christmas past you can turn it into an opportunity to make extra money. If you work for a company that is open for business on Christmas day check to see if you can pick up hours or take someone’s shift. Imagine how relieved your coworker would be to learn that she can be home to watch her children tear open their gifts thanks to you. AND you get time and a half for doing it? Chile, GO get your coinage!
6.) Phone a friend: You probably regret turning down those invitations to join your friends in their festivities but it’s not too late! Call them up and let them know you had a change of heart. Sometimes all we need is good friends, good energy and good food! Friends can be family too so don’t count them out. If you truly aren’t up to being around others it may help just to chat for a moment. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was on to something, phoning a friend really can be a lifeline.
7.) Sashay in the Sunshine: Winter blues is real. Really real. Do you experience an extreme change in mood when Winter hits? You aren’t alone. Lots of people’s moods change with the weather. SAD, seasonal affective disorder, is a syndrome characterized by recurrent depressions that occur every year during the same time. SAD usually occurs in Fall/early Winter and doesn’t fade until Spring. This has more to do with change in the climate and biology than it does with the holidays but when you put them together it doesn’t make for a good combination. Daylights savings is one of the culprits here. When we reset our clocks and “fall back” it takes time for some of us to transition from sunny evenings to dark days. Experts don’t have a definite answer but say that SAD may be caused by lack of sunlight which throws off brain chemicals that result in constant crappy moods. I said all this to say, if you are able to take a vacation, do it! Go somewhere warm and sunny and soak it in.
If that’s not possible for you, you can brighten your days by wearing brighter colors, painting a room in that lighter hue of blue or using colorful accessories around your home. Going out before sundown can also be helpful.
There are PLENTY of ways to get through the holidays that aren’t listed here, do what works for you and what gets you through!
**While Winter Blues IS a thing, it is generally mild and fleeting whereas SAD is a sign of major depression. If you feel like you may be experiencing depression please do not hesitate to seek help. In addition, if you know someone who is suffering through the holidays for one reason or another, make an effort to reach out to them and let them know they are Loved. Talk to them, pray with/for them or sit with them in silence if that’s what they need. If they aren’t receptive at the moment, leave them a message to see when they are in a better mood, mail them a letter or send them a bundle of their favorite things.
What are some things you do to get through rough holidays?