I thought I’d write a few words about the holidays and the blues, because this is the time of the year people commonly experience feelings of depression, sadness, and loss when many others are enjoying and celebrating the holidays.
Holiday depression is common and perhaps up to 10% of the population suffers from it to some degree or another. It is usually related to the holiday season because it brings back memories of a happier time in our lives. We may remember spending past holidays with a loved one who is no longer with us. Or we may get depressed by seeing so many others who have someone special in their lives — whether it be their family, close friends, or a significant other — to share the season with. Or it may be a combination of these things and others, such as dealing with an ongoing mental disorder.
Lean Into Spirituality, Rather than Materialism
Whatever the reason for suffering the holiday blues, there are some things you can do to try and ward them off, or at least minimize their impact in your life. The holidays are first and foremost a time of spirituality and a recognition of special religious events.
Often this may be a good time to renew your spiritual beliefs and spend more time in contemplation of religion and spirituality. If you haven’t been to church or synagogue in years, for instance, now may be a good time to think about going again.
I don’t think spirituality alone has all the answers to any of the world’s problems or people’s personal problems. But it can be an important aspect to understanding your life, your motivations, and your relationships with others.
Make Specific Time for Your Hobbies, Volunteering
Beyond spirituality, you can consider turning to those activities and hobbies which have often helped you in the past. This may mean volunteering more time at a local hospital or nursing home. Or devoting more time to writing, sewing, woodworking, fixing up things around the house, going to the library, reading, or any of a number of other activities.
The point here is to try and keep your mind focused on those things which bring you pleasure and which you enjoy doing. This is certainly no “cure-all,” but it can be a helpful thing to try and do more of. If public places remind you of sad feelings or memories, you may just want to avoid them as much as possible this holiday season.
Understand Your Feelings May be Related to Grief
Many times a person experiences these sad feelings and memories as a natural part of the loss or grieving process. Sometimes this process can be unresolved, and therefore you can become more upset by triggering events or times of the year. Like the holidays. This may be a sign that you need to find acceptance of the loss, which is the final step in the grieving process. This can often be done on your own, and might be helped along by a book on grief.