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The holidays can cause a great deal of distress for many, so let’s explore how to practice an inner sense of yourself at peace this holiday season and battle those holiday blues.

As the holidays quickly approach, we will spend more money, eat more food, see family, travel, and attend spiritual or holiday activities. Our schedules will be heavier. If you live anywhere where the seasons change, it gets darker earlier and some degree of colder. The dreariness of this world hits many at full force as they suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. There are many who also experience an immense amount of grief as they are reminded of the passing of loved ones gone or lack of social support. Celebration and joy of the holidays are incongruent with what you are thinking and feeling. Loneliness is amplified. Some may feel all together disconnected from the holidays for cultural or even spiritual reasons. Others may feel dread and worry as you navigate conversations with family and determine which family to spend the holidays with. Some may feel anxious about what foods they will eat or where the money will come from to purchase gifts. Here are some tips on how to practice or prepare this holiday season despite the sadness or blues that so easily happen to many.

Be Kind To Yourself

Practice self care. Continue to pay attention to your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Take note of what drains you and what restores.

  • Plan your schedule ahead and include times of rest.  Weekends will quickly fill up, so decide beforehand what activities will give you life and which events you’ll need to save for another time. 
  • Develop a strategy ahead of time, can help you to feel more empowered when you may feel more vulnerable.  For example: If you know that eating certain foods may not be good for you, deciding ahead of time to bring your own sides to share or eating ahead of time can help you to feel more present during a shared meal.
  • Communicate to those who you feel safe with by telling them what you are experiencing. Often times you’d be surprised that sharing a vulnerability sparks great conversation, (since most everyone can relate to holiday stress).
  • Don’t ignore what you are feeling, practicing mindfulness techniques can allow you to notice what you are feeling without judgement. Try deep breathing (include link to Clair’s deep breathing article), if you’ve never given it a go before, and consider how your body and mind feels after a few minutes of physical mindfulness practice.
  • Schedule time to sit with grief, loss, loneliness, sadness with a safe person or on your own.
  • Acts of service or kindness towards others can serve as a reminder of what one has to offer, even when weary. Consider volunteering for an organization or thoughtfully consider a friend or neighbor who you could share a small gift with. A kind note is of no cost spare the pen and paper, and can leave a lasting impact on those around you.
  • Join a support group with others who may be struggling. In-person meeting pop up all over our city, and with the online community there’s so many forums, articles, podcasts, & resources available.
  • Press into faith communities that offer, hope, meaning and encouragement.

Offering Support To Others Struggling With The Blues

Recognizing and validating that the holidays are not always a joyous time for all is the first step in being supportive.  Knowing that you are available to listen and to engage in self-care techniques with your neighbor/loved one can be meaningful as well.  Lastly, when further professional support is necessary, encouraging them to seek out support from a therapist is life giving.

If you find that you or your loved ones are struggling with the holiday blues please know that you are not alone.  I would be happy to meet with you further to help you find healing and wholeness during this challenging time of the year.

 

Written by therapist Pamela Larkin

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