While co-workers, friends and everyone else is wrapped up in the frenzy of the last few days before Christmas, eagerly anticipating the joys and warmth of family nestled ‘round, the sound of children giggling and the smells of the holiday evergreen, some of us do our best to put on a happy face, bravely attempting to make the most of what can be one of the most painful days of the year.
The holidays are a time of celebration for those that are surrounded by family, those that achieved their yearly goals, and those that have a bright outlook for the upcoming. For many, the season can be a bitter reminder of loved ones we have lost, those we have let go, and a punctuation of shortcomings and pressures that have yet to subside.
Perhaps there is nostalgia of better days long past or the burdens that await us in the future. Perhaps anger that our hopes have faded or that faith went unanswered.
Whatever the reason, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. While many share their glowing moments through holiday cards, Facebook posts and colorful storytelling, it’s easy to feel that we are in a minority of those struggling to clamor out of chaos. This is a major misconception common in this age of social media (one that has caused measurable nationwide increases in depression).
In any given year the average household experiences the passing of a close relative or family friend, and every 2 years the loss of a job. Marital divorce rates of over 50% are often precursed by years of closely held marital struggles. Financial troubles are cited as the cause of divorce in 1 out of 5 couples.
So what have we established? Life is tough, the holidays are rough, and the struggle is real for a much larger percentage of our community than meets the eye.
How to get through the Holiday’s. 5 steps to overcoming blues.
- TAKE AN INVENTORY AND THAT INCLUDES A GRATITUDE LIST
Our brain tends to jump from one thing to another, often without completion of the thought or task. Because life is so busy, those uncompleted tasks can pile up, creating a sense of frustration and impending failure. An Inventory can be a great way to get all those problems rolling around between your ears, off your mind and out on paper. Don’t overwhelm yourselfand take breaksbetween each section of your inventory.
- Start with a list of all those things you need to get done from a practical standpoint
- Next, find a coffee shop or a cozy place at your home, relax, close your eyes and let your mind do its thing. As larger, more subliminal thoughts rise to the surface, jot them down. These problems might be more global to your psyche. Maybe there are concerns around beliefs, self-doubts, unwanted attitudes and judgements around others. Perhaps deep and long-held resentments have stymied forgiveness and acceptance. Whatever it is, let it flow, get it out and get it on paper. Studies have shown that putting pen to paper, not only allows for better identification of underlying core issues but it also provides clarity of thought and reduction of anxiety.
- Finally, it’s time for gratitude! You’ve identified the challenges, now it’s time to be honest with yourself about your blessings. It is common for our fears and failures to overshadow we have been given. This is an exercise in mindfulness so no item is too large or too small. Perhaps it was a small gesture of kindness; a nod from a passerby, a smile, a door held open. Perhaps something we take for granted; a brisk morning walk, the smell of fresh cut grass, the companionship of a furry best friend or even the chill of a melting snowflake on your nose. It might feel silly but let it flow and don’t be surprised if the exercise awakens unexpected emotions. Don’t stop until you have an entire page full of gratitude.
- HELP SOMEONE IN NEED
Looking outside of oneself creates an overwhelming sense of goodness and purpose that can really assist in putting things in perspective, reducing anxieties and promoting self-worth.
A trip to a soup kitchen or volunteering to read to children at the library are just two of the many ways to get out of the house and make an impact in someone else’s life. Get out a calendar, set aside volunteer time, make arrangements and follow-through. Serving our community and those younger, elder or disadvantaged is a great way to get out of the isolation of the holiday season and truly embrace gift and giving.
The gift of giving does not only apply to material possessions. The gift of company or support of someone who is going through a rough patch leads us to another way to give – to yourself or another.
- INVEST IN AN AFFORDABLE SELF-CARE SERVICE
There is no shame in talking through issues with a professional and admitting that all is not well. It is tough to watch someone we care about struggle without improvement. Sometimes a kickstart goes a long way, especially when isolation takes over or the light at the end of the tunnel dims. Whether the storm clouds are forming or you find yourself in hurricane force winds, help has never been more accessible than it is today.
When looking for a counselor or therapist, where do you start? Asking friends is awkward and searching for a quality provider can be daunting. One of the best resources is tele-counseling and it makes sense for multitude of reasons.
- Do it from home.Booking an appointment and waiting around when a problem is acute is not ideal. Call from the comfort of home, when it is needed.
- The plans are very affordable. This monthly tele-counseling service from Aloe Health Insurance is around $18 a month and includes 24/7 access to counselors and 5 in-person sessions, per circumstance, per year benefit.
- INDULGE YOUR INNER CHILD
Take some time to be a kid at heart! No time of year provides adults with the circumstances to embrace wonder and magic like the Christmas Season. Whether you believe in Santa or not, a trip to the mall to see the look on kids’ faces as they meet Santa, or the chimes of a Holiday Performance at a local community center or church will uplift the spirits.
While being around such joy and celebration can be triggering, it can also serve as a conduit to reignite our hearts as they once were, indulging in the magic and majesty of the season.
If you feel silly or a little embarrassed, you’re doing it right!
- LATCH ON TO COMMUNITY
Isolation can be incredibly corrosive to the human spirit but also a frequent crutch to those feeling the blues. Sometimes the greatest challenges can yield the greatest results and getting up and out of the house, breaking our complacent routines and throwing ourselves head first into community circles and activities can yield incredible results, particularly around the holiday season.
With ample events in our local communities, pick up the local paper, flip to the events section and put a couple events on the calendar. Lending from earlier topics, volunteer at a local shelter, sing along with live music performances or check out support groups at your local church. We are all in this together and the more we lean on each other, the stronger we are to overcome our hardships.
If you or your loved ones are struggling with depression or simply need someone to talk to, please call in to 512.289.7376 to chat with us. Practice what you preach!
Give the gift of Tele-counseling this season to yourself or a loved one, here.