Christmas time! Sparkly lights, decorations, office parties, secret Santa’s. It all sounds lovely and for most, it’s the best holiday season. So why do so many of us feel ‘blue’, depressed, or just downright ‘blah’ about this time of year?
According to The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, it is a myth that suicide rates go up during the holiday season. There are no statistics though for people that experience a low-grade depression or ‘the blues’ during this time but there certainly are many articles that you can read out there about the holiday season and the blues. I myself experience the blues and so I write from first-hand experience. The reasons may differ but here is my view on why it happens and some tips for working through them.
- Comparison – There is a lot of visiting that happens between families at this time and people may feel envious or guilty because there are more presents under one tree, the decorations are more than, cards have been mailed out but you haven’t done that, etc. For some, there is a lot of self-shaming happening because we look at others and maybe we haven’t done all that or have all that. We may compare past holidays to this one and maybe there was a time in the past when we had more money, more time, more family, etc and this year doesn’t feel the same. For myself, I no longer have my parents living and at Christmas time I always feel that void or loss of them in my life.
- Stress is higher – undoubtedly, this is the one time of year when stress goes up! There is more shopping, more parties, more functions, more alcohol, more money being spent and it really is a high-pressure time of year.
- Dread of the year ahead – The ending of one year and the beginning of another for some can cause the blues. Stressing about taxes coming, tax hikes, future bills from credit cards maxed out, and just the dread of the ending of the holidays and returning to work can cause people to feel down.
- Loneliness – This is the hardest one for so many. Not everyone has family around them, not everyone has money to spend on presents or even for their children. Being faced with sitting alone at home without family around can be devastating.
So, how do we go into the holidays and not have to feel the blues? I think we can prepare ourselves and make some arrangements or exceptions throughout the holidays.
- Comparisons- Instead of feeling guilt or shame and comparing past holidays, etc you can only embrace where you are in your life now. Don’t compare your life to others, what others are doing over the holidays or even past holidays. Find ways to have a little piece of Christmas cheer in your space. Of course, I mean with decorations and holiday baking and such. You can find ways to make decorations and make your space look cheery and comforting. When you are missing loved ones that are no longer with you, it can be hard. I find lighting a candle and thinking of them is one way, also remembering your loved ones, to me I feel like that is honoring them. Tell stories of the holidays when they were with you, laugh, and remember them with love and joy in your heart.
- Higher stress- We can’t escape the fact that there are going to be more things to take care of at this time of year but if you are feeling stressed and ‘blue’ because you don’t want to have all the commitments that are coming up then you can plan on the events, parties or gatherings that you will go to and what ones you don’t want to go to. I love planners! I don’t know why, but I do! A good practice is to get out a planner and organize the month of December. Maybe you can’t fit in all the parties or visits but you can work a time for coffee or lunch. You can schedule it when you are out doing your shopping and running around and then it’s all taken care of in one day. In terms of money spending, you can change things up. There is no law that says you must spend so much money. In big families, you can pick names, and then there is one person to buy for. A conversation with children about charity and helping out community is also a really good experience. Buying one toy or two for them and one to put in a hamper brings them awareness and teaches them about helping out others and gives them a sense of gratitude for all they do have.
- Dread of the year ahead – Saving a little bit of money each month to pay your taxes when they come up, planning little excursions or trips in the new year, planning outings with friends, all of these things can help to make the dread go away because you now have plans in place and things that you can look forward to in the new year.
- Loneliness – You can’t change the fact that you may be somewhere far from family, but, if you are on good terms you can google or Skype with them. Make something to eat and ask that they have the camera on during dinner and through the evening. It will be like you are almost there with them! If you are alone and you don’t have people around you, get out and be where people are. Go to a church and a service, find a meet-up for Christmas dinner (I know there are many) if you skate, go out to an outdoor skating rink and skate then go back home and watch a Christmas movie. If you are struggling financially sign up to receive a hamper, or find a free dinner in your city. If you haven’t spoken to family or some friends because you had a disagreement etc, maybe now is the perfect time to reach out and forgive and put the past in the past.
It is true that this time of year can be hard for a lot of people, but it doesn’t always have to be! If you have feelings or thoughts of suicide please reach out and call 1.833.456.4566 Talk Suicide Canada or if you are in the United States 1-800-784-2433 or if you are a Veteran dial 988 then press one. There is help out there for you.
You can find me of course at www.joannehughescoaching.ca reach out anytime. With all that I AM…..
Photo by Vijay Sadasivuni: https://www.pexels.com/photo/depressed-young-man-with-blurred-head-in-dark-room-3833370/