It’s the holiday season, which for most people is a fun time of the year. But it can also be a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety. This can happen any time leading up to Christmas, or it can show up as post-holiday sadness after New Year’s Day.
The causes of holiday blues can vary from person to person, but WebMD reports typical sources include stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial stress and the inability to be with family and friends. Responses also vary, but they may include headaches, excessive drinking, overeating and insomnia.
However, there are many positive responses for coping with holiday stress and depression. Here are a few suggestions:
• Make realistic expectations for the holiday season and set realistic goals for yourself.
• Pace yourself. Don’t take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
• Live and enjoy the present.
• Look to the future with optimism.
• Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.
• If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.
It is also possible that the reduced daylight in wintertime is a factor in your sadness. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a treatable conduction, but here’s one case when maybe it’s OK to “self-medicate.” In other words, head outdoors and soak in some sunshine.
As the traditional Christmas carol (almost) advises, “Rest you merry, ladies and gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay.” Another songwriter tells us, “I wish it could be Christmas every day, when the kids start singing and the band begins to play ...” But if that’s not you, take a deep breath and focus on something else. Or, if you think you may truly be depressed, check out this free, anonymous survey offered by The Center for Counseling and Consultation, right here in central Kansas: thecentergb.org.
‘Tis the season to be jolly, we often hear, but that doesn’t mean a nonstop jovial demeanor is compulsory or even desirable. Bad things happen with no regard for the date on the calendar, and it’s OK to be sad sometimes. Give yourself permission to cry if needed but also be willing to hang in there and express appreciation for the positives.