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The Holiday Blues

This post originally appeared on on 12/21/2010.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

Well, what do you do when it’s not?

For me, the holidays are a struggle this year. Since last Christmas, I’ve lost three members of my family – my brother, my father and my aunt. Yes, 2010 was not a good one. In fact, I am officially naming it my “worst year ever”.

When you take that reality and add some endless rain to the mix, it can make for the holiday blues for sure.

The thought of the first Christmas of my life without my dad is a difficult one to wrap my head around. I thought about mixing it up this year by going away and just doing everything different. But, I thought better of it and decided to go ahead with our traditional Christmas celebration. Instead of running away from my feelings, I’m going to stay and tackle them head on.

I know that I am far from alone. There are many people who are having a tough holiday for a number of reasons: death of loved ones, illness, unemployment, loss of a home, divorce or a host of other reasons.

For those of you who may also have the holiday blues, I wanted to share some things that I’m doing to help get through:

  • Doing for others – Everything from giving money to help feed those who don’t have a hot meal, to helping out a neighbor or a friend who is also struggling – all of this helps take the focus of my own little pity party.
  • Keeping busy – baking with the kids, shopping, hosting friends and family, attending holiday parties – for me, the busier I am, and the more I’m around other people, the more I feel the holiday spirit.
  • Counting my blessings – although it’s been a tough year, I am thankful for the many blessings I do have: healthy kids, a supportive husband, a place to call home, good food on the table and great friends.
  • Exercising – I have been trying to stick to a regular exercise schedule despite the rain and holiday craziness. For me, regular exercise helps my mental health even more than my physical health.
  • Practicing moderation – I’m trying not to overindulge on food or alcohol because that just makes depression worse. And I did say trying – a couple nights of too much wine and a Peppermint Joe-Joe’s session excluded, I’ve been pretty good.
  • Confiding in someone  – the best thing you can do is find a friend, therapist, or family member to share your feelings with.  You can also talk through a game plan for how you will handle the holidays. If you think about it in advance, your feelings won’t take you by surprise and will be easier to handle.  If you have also lost a loved one this year, think about adding a new tradition into your holiday celebrations to honor their memory.

I wish you a wonderful holiday. I hope that it’s a happy one, but even if it’s not, know that there are many people out there sharing your feelings and who want to help. And the more you reach out, the more joyful your holiday will be.

Wishing peace, love and joy to you and your family and best wishes for a better year ahead!

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