Individual Counseling Insights brought to you by California Psychotherapeutic Resources, Inc.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year. Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, and however you celebrate the coming of the New Year, December is a joyous time to celebrate with family and friends. Joyous, that is, unless it’s not.
For someone entering their first holiday season following the death of a loved one, for those who spend the holidays alone, for anyone whose recollections of childhood holidays are marred by traumatic memories, holidays can be long and dark days to simply endure.
Writing for The University of Utah’s Health website, Leann Bentley says “The holiday season may be ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ but it’s the most dreaded for some. The holidays fill the air with happiness and cheer, yet they can also carry stress and sadness for many people, especially those who deal with an underlying mental health condition… If you notice yourself feeling more down, irritable, tearful, or exhausted, or having more difficulties with your sleep or appetite than usual, it’s time to ask for help.”
If you’re feeling depressed around the holidays and believe there is not an underlying issue for which you need professional help, then you may want to beat the holiday blues on your own. Bentley offers a number of suggestions, including:
Write things down. Focus on uplifting thoughts. Reflect on these when you’re not feeling upbeat.
Limit your alcohol use. Alcohol intensifies emotions, especially negative ones. Limit consumption or, better yet, reach for the cider or tea instead.
Plan something for yourself after the holidays. Even if it’s a simple afternoon getaway with a friend, having something to look forward to in the near future can be surprisingly uplifting.
Watch what you are eating. Sugary sweets abound at holiday gatherings, but try to balance the treats with overall healthy food — it will help balance mood swings.
Volunteer. Helping others is a proven way to feel better. And you’ll often find others you can relate to.
Limit your time on social media. One of the negative aspects of social media is that people almost invariably portray themselves as unrealistically happy. It’s hard to remember that’s not reality when you’re feeling down, and that can bring you even lower.
Set boundaries. Remember that it’s okay to say no, especially to people or events that you just don’t feel good about.