This article is written by Dr. Althea Baranda Clark.
The holiday season is upon us. A special time of the year that is often filled with joyous moments. Yet, there are people who are not happy campers during this time. In fact, many people feel lonely, depressed and anxious during the holiday season. Below, I have highlighted the most common reasons for holiday blues and ways to combat them.
6 major reasons why many people feel sad at this time of the year:
1. Our societal tradition can set us up to a certain standard such as attending holiday events and giving trendy gifts that can easily put people in a financial hole. That internal pressure to live up to such standards can make people feel miserable.
2. This is the time when the family gathers. Unfortunately, to some people who do not have a good family connection or not have a family at all, this time could be a source of tremendous sadness.
3. This time of the year is a time of reflection of the past. This could become a moment to reminisce an old happy memory with someone you are no longer with, either from a breakup or the death of a loved one.
4. This is also the time of the year when it is cold and gloomy. Sometimes, the lack of sunshine can trigger depression, which is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
5. The tasks and demands of the family can be overwhelming that it consumes the joy out of people.
6. Health issues can trigger stress, and in some cases, It can cause people to alter their preferred holiday plans. This can lead to a tremendous amount of sadness.
So, here are 6 or 7 ways to combat the Holiday blues:
1. Create a budget for gifts that you can live with and not be in debt afterward. Choose the most important events to attend and try to stick to the plan.
2. If you do not have any family or if they are far away from you, connect with a few friends and get together with them.
3. Honor your past and come to terms with it. See a therapist if you are having difficulty doing this on your own. Feel free to create a new tradition. If you lost a loved one through death, this could be a good opportunity to honor his or her life. Perhaps by planting a tree in their honor.
4. If you have no access to sunlight, get your endorphins flowing. Take a walk or go to the gym 3-4 times a week.
5. Sit in with those emotions. Find a specific ‘worry chair’ and sit there 2 x a day for 10 minutes at a time. This is your time to worry and experience your feelings. But, as soon as you get up, you will try to be cheerful and not think about the things that make you sad. If the thoughts begin to pop up, say to yourself ‘I will save that thought for my next sitting session on my worry chair.
6. Have time for yourself and give yourself a meaningful present that you would enjoy such as a spa day or a cooking lesson or even better, travel by yourself or with a close friend.
7. If it applies to you, go to your church and say your prayers.
Having said all of that, keep in mind that there are holiday habits that could contribute to sadness or depression as well such as increased alcohol use and overeating. By the same token, if the feeling of sadness is severe with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, it is time to consult a psychotherapist or/and a psychiatrist or even decide to experience a pressure-free retreat at a holistic center such as The Holistic Sanctuary.
About the Writer
Althea Baranda Clark was born in the Philippines. She immigrated to the United States along with her family 27 years ago. She earned her Master’s degree in clinical counseling in 2007. A few years later, she earned another Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. She is currently in her final phase of her Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Neuropsychology. Althea has been a psychotherapist for 10 years and is practicing in the Las Vegas area. Beyond the professional realm, Althea is an avid traveler. She has been to almost 50 countries and 38 US states.
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