The holiday season is a fun time of the year for most people, filled with parties, shopping and social gatherings with family and friends. However, for some people it is a time filled with anxiety, sadness, self-reflection and loneliness.
During the holidays, the number of activities and events most of us manage speed up. For some, shopping and gift-buying can cause emotional and financial stress. Managing the crowds at malls can heighten anxiety. While there are parties were most seem to be happy, cheerfulness can be depressing for those who have recently suffered a loss or they’re away from home.
“If someone doesn’t have family it can be a period of loneliness and that person might become despondent because they are along and they don’t have others,” said Ben Harrington with the East Tennessee Mental Health Association. “So, if you knew somebody who was going to be alone, ask them to join your for dinner or take them something to show that you are thinking of them.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness says loneliness is a leading contributor to holiday blues for people who don’t have family or who live far from family. A remedy is to resist the temptation to hunker down. Instead, keep yourself occupied and don’t let a friend be alone.
“Sometimes, people will say, ‘Oh, don’t worry about me,’ but you know what, they really like that fact that someone reached out to them,” Harrington said. “Also, it’s really important to give somebody something to look forward to.”
Another symptom of holiday blues is missing holidays past. Memories are a big part of the season. If your circumstances aren’t the best, you may long for the happier times.
According to the Alliance on Mental Illness, a remedy is to create new traditions. There are no hard rules for what your holiday should look like, but don’t get stuck at home. Some local restaurants are open Christmas.
“If you can’t have someone join you for Christmas dinner, make a lunch date or dinner date and say, ‘We’re going to dinner. Get dressed. We are going to come and pick you up.’ Don’t take no for an answer. Give them something to look forward. Helps boost their spirits,” said Harrington.
Contrary to popular opinion, there are no rules for how you should spend your holidays. If old traditions bring up unhappy memories, start new ones.
If you don’t have family, share the holidays with good friends. Don’t wait for them to include you. Make them welcome in your home instead.
Help someone else. Volunteer to wrap gifts for unfortunate kids or spend time with an elderly relative or friend. You can also make time to contact a long lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer with them.
The most important thing you can do to beat the holiday blues is no matter what is happening in your life, think of the blessings you do have.