Updated: Nov 28, 2019
This time of year seems to do one or two things to people. 1) Brings out feelings of complete and utter blissfulness coupled with complete soul satisfaction OR 2) Brings out the opposite with deflated spirits, poor energy, depression or sadness. The older I get the more a reality of how quickly life changes sets in. You literally never know what is right around the corner. Literally. Whether it is good or bad, I know at this point that something is always waiting for you around the corner.
A fact of life is that for every one person you find that has started their holiday season with decorations galore, the urge to play “Let it Snow” – Boys II Men & Brian McKnight version - sent out Christmas postcards with the coordinating family portraits, or do whatever it is you do to emerge into the “most happiest time of the year”, there is someone else suffering in silence. There is someone else that for this time of year, it is all they can do to simply make it through the day without falling apart.
We lose loved ones and are reminded of how much we miss them during the holidays sometimes the most. Or, we are at odds with family members and nobody is looking forward to the dramatic holiday gathering. Or the love of your life has decided that he/she needs “time apart…. it’s not you it’s them (they say) ….” And you feel more profoundly alone. Perhaps financial concerns are highlighted during this time of year, which causes another level of stress for some. This list can go on and on. The fact is that we get soo caught up in the perceived joy of the season that we often overlook those that may be suffering in silence during this time of year.
As such, I want to dedicate this entry to those that may have a case of holiday blues. Here are some tools that I want to share in hopes that someone can use something from the list to get through this holiday season and come out on the other end ready for whatever is next around the corner….
Monica’s Holiday Blues Tools You Can Use:
1. Love the people that are present in your life. Love is an action and not a noun. Sometimes we are so focused on loved ones that may be gone, that we forget to love those that are still with us. If you have someone to love, just love them. Love is powerful and comes in all forms. It’s a little bit harder to be down in the dumps when you activate the ability to love someone who is present and deserves it. We tend to focus on who we lost versus who we still have. Make time for this. I know for certain (don’t debate me either) that people spend time with the people they want to when they want to. If you have someone to love, love them. Parents shouldn’t be too busy to love their kids, friends should not be to busy to show love to their friends, and people in relationships should always make time to love. No excuses.
2. Find an opportunity to help someone in need. This could be volunteer work. Life is about perspective. When you push yourself outside of your bubble and do random acts of kindness for others that may be in an even more dark place, it brings a little bit of light your way. This time of year it is easy to find a way to help someone in need. Don’t spend too much time stressing over what to do exactly. Let it find you and just be open to receive it. For example, perhaps, one day you randomly decide to pay for a stranger’s food at a fast food drive thru…. or you assist an elderly person take their groceries out of their cart in the grocery store line. You may volunteer at a homeless shelter, work on a community project, etc. Just be open for the opportunities and be ready to respond with a helping hand. It will make you feel a little better and you will think about things other than thoughts that may be giving you the blues.
3. Honor those that are no longer present in your life due to a death. What was their favorite thing to do? What was a tradition they had when they were alive? What would he/she want you to do to celebrate and honor their memory? Pick something that allows you to honor the person and your love…and the fact that you miss them. Don’t run from this, embrace the memories, it helps keep them alive in your spirit and heart. It won’t make all the pain go away, but it will make it more bearable.
4. Laugh. Find something that makes you laugh and engage in doing that. Find the humor in the things you can and LAUGH as often as possible. Laugh full heartedly and if you need assistance pop in your favorite comedy and laugh. I keep the movie “Step Brothers” around for this sole purpose.
5. Talk. Talk to your friends, your family, a therapist, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a mentor, an extended family member, an elder, a spiritual adviser, a pastor, a co-worker…. a stranger on the Internet with shared interests. Just talk, as the more we hold in, the more physical and mental harm we do to ourselves over time. Do away with the unrealistic expectation that you must be strong for everyone else. Everyone else will figure it out. You have to figure out your own stuff first and talking about your experiences and feelings, do actually help. Makes you feel lighter and often provides clarity.
6. Peer Support. Similar to number 5 above, talking to individuals with shared experiences ALWAYS is a plus. If you don’t know someone personally with the exact same experience as you, search for a support group. There are many support groups on line for all types of topics. You can connect with people experiencing similar situations without leaving your home, so no excuses! And of course, in person support groups are a plus.
7. Take a sabbatical from social media. How you manage this is up to you, but what I do know is that when you are having the blues, watching others show you only the good parts of their lives on social media does NOT help your situation. What it does do is make your situation seem worse than it may be because everyone else may look to you as if they are living their absolute best life. We all know that people show you the parts of their lives they WANT to show you. Don’t fall into the trap. The sabbatical may not be a cold turkey cut off, it could be a reduction. But it should be something. Added bonus: Don’t announce your social media departure, you will just have to spend more time reading all the comments asking you why. I say skip that part altogether.
8. Learn something new and cool to do. The possibilities are endless here. We all have something on our “list” that we say if we had more time, we would do ___________. Whatever that blank is for you, go for it. No time like the present to get started. The sense of personal accomplishment is powerful.
9. Cry. Cry when you want to/need to. Cry anyway you want. Sometimes this alone is cathartic enough to move you through the roughest parts. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness it can be a strength in that you are allowing yourself to just actually FEEL the pain you may be experiencing. For me, a good cry is synonymous with vomiting. You hate to do it but when it’s over you feel soooo much better. If you need a jump starter, the movie “Me Before You” does it for me every time….and most recently “The Book of Henry” had me crying with hiccups included.
10. Say no to the things you don't want. You don't have to accept every invitation to go out or attend a function, or accept an offer to come see you. Be good with saying, "I'm good." If you don't feel like doing it then don't. The response of "I just don't want to do it (whatever it is), is sufficient. If you don't like the energy of certain folks that have access to you, limit their access. Establish boundaries that you determine are necessary to keep you sane. We often get caught up in trying to please others, we do things we don't want to do, then are later annoyed that we did that thing. Just say no when you want to. It is quite liberating.
This list is not exhaustive and I could have easily added 10 more, but then this would be a self-help book and not a blog. Happy Holidays, remember to be kind and do good. The universe always rewards that in the end. Muah!