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7 Methods for Weathering the Holiday Blues

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My most incredible childhood memories were with my parents around the holidays. They made it special for my sisters and me, but after the loss of our parents as children, I would go on to detest the holidays.

I lived with my grandmother for six years, but I felt like an orphan whenever the holidays rolled around. All my cousins, aunts and uncles would come to celebrate, but I was the only one without parents.

Eventually, when I had my children, the holidays weren’t so lonely any longer because it became about bringing them joy. However, my children are now adults, and therefore, I’ve had to find a way to embrace them rather than allow sadness.

How to Enjoy the Holidays

Often loss, loneliness and sadness are associated with the holidays — whether due to missing past reunions, occurrences of adverse events or being alone. Whatever the reason, yearly self-punishment is not conducive to our well-being. Therefore, I’d like to offer some suggestions that can be helpful.

1. Do Something Fun

Although not everyone likes the cold weather, sometimes there is nothing more beautiful than standing outside and watching the snowflakes come down from the sky. Do you remember when you used to catch the snowflakes with your tongue or make a snow angel as a child? Well, you are never too old to do that.

Now that holiday lights are all around us, perhaps you can take a walk or drive to a tree-lit park. Or you can go around town and look at festive homes. There’s just something so peaceful and enjoyable about that to me.

If you prefer to stay indoors, how about baking some cookies and heating some hot chocolate, tea or whatever your fancy may be. Or maybe you enjoy drawing, coloring or making crafts.

2. Interact with Others

The holidays can bring on depression and isolation for many individuals. Therefore, it is essential to socialize with others, whether via a visit, phone call or video chat.

Unfortunately, many individuals don’t have friends or family members around. If that’s the case, maybe you can try a support group. There are online forums or those you can phone or video join. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

3. Volunteer

Volunteering for me has been the greatest reward. There is such a sense of joy, satisfaction and fulfillment that comes along with it, knowing that you can make a difference for someone or something. Plus, there is a greater need for help during the holiday season.

Doing volunteer work is also a way to get ourselves out of that funk. When we’re anxious, lonely or depressed, getting stuck inside our heads is easy. However, volunteering has a way of getting ourselves unstuck because we’re no longer focusing so much on the internal.

4. Start a New Tradition

Oh, how I wish I could go back to the days when my kids were little, watching the joy in their faces on Christmas day. However, now that they are adults, I’ve had to learn to make my own special memories. Therefore, whenever December 1st comes around, I watch a Christmas movie every evening until Christmas. It’s always good seeing a kindred spirit or laughing at a goofy Santa movie.

It is never too late to start a tradition you can call your own.

5. Stay in the Moment

Sometimes, being in the moment doesn’t feel any better for us, but we also can’t rewind time and go back to the past. However, rather than going back to a moment that no longer exists, we can shape the moment we are in now.

One method that I use to get myself out of the past is called radical acceptance. In other words, radical acceptance means that I allow myself to feel the sadness and loss of my past for a moment, accept it for what it is, and then move on from it by doing something that I know made me feel good about myself the time before. I am essentially working on my practicing skills.

6. Be Kind to Yourself

Being kind and empathetic towards others is an exceptional quality. However, we tend not to treat ourselves in the same regard. So whenever you feel down due to the holidays, treat yourself with the same kindness you would if a friend felt that way, and give yourself some grace.

7.  Seek Help

Even with our best intentions, getting through the holidays is not always smooth sailing. Therefore, please reach out for help if your symptoms persist or worsen. You can:

  • Contact your therapist
  • Call a warmline or hotline
  • Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
  • Reach out to a friend for support

The holidays may not come easy for everyone, but we can find a way to make it more bearable. Hopefully, some of these tips helped.

Getty image by FTiare

Originally published: December 7, 2021
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