The most wonderful time of the year. Or is it?

Usually, the holiday season is filled with joy and laughter, but what happens when you’re not feeling as festive? Lately, I’ve been thinking about not celebrating the holidays. Primarily, Christmas. At times, I feel lost wondering why I don’t have the Christmas spirit. I want to celebrate and be merry along with my friends and family, however, I feel like something is missing. When you no longer have the joy and excitement of a five-year-old, how do you recapture that spirit? That feeling?  We spend so much time focusing on giving and receiving gifts that the reason for the season goes unnoticed.

 The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests- stress and depression. Stress and depression can ruin your holiday and hurt your health. Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression. Not to mention those who are haunted by negative feelings, whether it’s from a lack of financial resources, loss of a loved one, or just plain loneliness.  While most are touched by the holiday spirit, there are others that experience distress from having difficulties coping with unwanted feelings.  Those unwanted feelings become “The Holiday Blues”.

 One way to stay ahead of unwanted feelings is to “Take Control of The Holidays” . . .

Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

 What are the Holiday Blues? What do the holiday blues look like? Are they the same for everyone? What can you do to alleviate the negative feelings?

 According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “The Holiday Blues” refer to feelings of anxiety or depression during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. They may be associated with extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even sentimental memories that accompany the season. They may include:

•Loneliness and isolation

•Sadness

•A sense of loss

•Fatigue

•Tension

•Frustration

  Avoiding the Holiday Blues

•Stick to normal routines as much as possible.

•Get enough sleep or rest.

•Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate yourself. Spend time with supportive, caring people.

•Eat and drink in moderation. Don’t’ drink alcohol if you are feeling down.

•Get exercise—even if it’s only taking a short walk.

•Make a to-do list. Keep things simple.

•Set reasonable expectations and goals for holiday activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, attending parties or sending holiday cards.

•Set a budget for holiday activities. Don’t overextend yourself financially in buying presents.

•Listen to music.

•Remember that holiday blues are short-term. Be patient. Take things week by week and day by day.

So, what can we do to maintain a positive holiday spirit? . . . 

Think about positive holiday memories, volunteer at a food pantry, donate to a clothing closet, help someone less fortunate, put up your Christmas decorations, listen to Christmas music, bake Christmas cookies, and socialize with like-minded friends and family. 

Ellen Pierce