Sometimes this season that should feel festive ends up being the toughest.
Christmas can be brutally depressing for many people and the continual carolling of joyous tidings can feel like stinging salt in a wound. Because if there’s one thing worse than feeling depressed, it’s feeling depressed when everyone around you is extraordinarily happy.
If you’ve ever experienced a time of sadness during this season, you may know what I’m talking about.
While I don’t have the particularly painful sting of being alone or missing a loved one during the holidays, I have battled clinical depression for over 20 years so I know what it’s like to feel as though I can’t quite generate the joy of the season.
Some years, a little “seasonal affective” sadness, mixed in with the overwhelm of too much work, not enough money, and the extra responsibilities and chores brought on by the holidays can wear me down and take a hit to my holiday cheer.
So, what can you do to help yourself or a friend through this time?
First of all, it’s important to recognize that this isn’t always the happiest time of the year. Sure we may sing songs that declare it to be, but we also sing about a fat man, dressed in red, stuffing stockings.
So put it in perspective… the entire world is not perfectly happy while you’re the only one not feeling the joy. Even though you may know logically that you’re not the only unhappy one, it can begin to feel that way during Christmas. And that misguided thought will make you even more lonely and depressed.
Remember you’re not alone. Lots of people don’t love the freezing cold, frantically over scheduled month of December.
And that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up because you ought to be happier.
Instead, be extra kind to yourself…
- Indulge in a few holiday treats. Take time with your children or a friend to bake Christmas cookies or make homemade chocolates.
- Gift yourself a trip to the spa. Don’t wait for someone to give you a gift certificate, hop on Groupon and find yourself an awesome local deal. Then congratulate yourself on being clever and saving money.
- Schedule a sleep-in on Saturday. Hire a babysitter or ask a friend or family member to watch your kids while you catch up on much needed sleep.
- Volunteer or spend some time helping someone else. It’s phenomenal how helping someone else is the best way to make yourself happy.
- Donate gifts and Christmas hampers to families in need. You’ll feel the warmth of giving when you shop for a pair of pyjamas or other gift items for children who don’t have much.
Sometimes pampering yourself with a peppermint mocha, a long bath and a good movie can be enough to warm up your mood, but if it’s not, please reach out and tell someone how you’re feeling.
If you are struggling with serious depression, please get help. Talk to someone and don’t let yourself be alone.
And if you’re the jolly type who can’t imagine being sad at Christmas, try to watch for signs that a friend or family member may be struggling and be the one to reach out and help her through this season.