OK. This is something I consider myself an expert in: Beating The Holiday Blues. I have gone to great lengths to put this time of year in perspective. I first questioned why abundance only had to be accepted and celebrated one month of every year. I went about breaking down that wall, and I like to think I've been very successful at it. The second question I've always had is: Why do so many people get depressed and blue this time of year?
My theory? It's imbalance. This is the time of year when it is so easy to fall out of alignment. Physically, we are adjusting to the decrease in temperature and to the decrease in sunlight. Overindulgence from Holiday parties will create an imbalance. Alcohol is a depressant and sugar will send your hormones in a tizzy, actually, so will alcohol.
Then there's consumerism. Advertisers have ingrained it into our heads that we are to be with family, happy and content, showering each other with gifts. If this ideal is not met, it is very to easy to be hard on yourself for not meeting this expectation. According to the advertisers, the more money you spend on someone, the more you love them. And if you can't do that for the ones you love, you have failed.
Finally, there is family. Missing the way the holidays used to be makes people blue; wishing for the magic and simplicity from childhood. You could be programmed to be like this this time of year, because the people around you had a hard time. You could also simply be missing the people you spent this time of year with in the past, or people you expected to spend the holidays with this year.
Whatever it is that's got you down, I find that people get this way because they are grieving for a reality that is not available, for whatever reason. Grief over not achieving an expectation. This grief is magnified by the change in the amount of sunlight and the colder weather. Add in the emotional triggers of family, plus the physical side affects from the ups and downs of over indulgence and you have an emotionally imbalanced public at large.
My advice? Let the expectations go. They are nasty little buggers that sneak in, alter focus and get you all worked up. I also advise a heavy dose of proactive choices that will help get you back to your center; living an aligned life.
- Get involved. Check around your community and see who needs help. Volunteer. Do something for someone else. Get out of your head and do for someone who can't do for themselves. It puts your troubles in perspective, gets your mind off of what's weighing on your heart. Also, be sure to get out to those holiday functions and socialize, just avoid the alcohol if you can.
- Get Creative. Get out your paint set. Jump in your car, drive around and take some pictures. Sing a song. Make a quilt. Take up knitting. Cook! Get a bunch of figures from your local gaming store and create a replica of some war. Whatever it is that you love to do. Get involved in a process bigger than yourself, that will get you out of your head.
- Listen to Music. I read somewhere that music washes your troubles away. It takes your senses away from the "everyday" and transports you to the "other worldly." I find the music I need to lift me up, or help me move through, seems to arrive just when I need it. Put your headphones on, close your eyes and move beyond what's weighing you down.
- Take a Hot Bath. Feeling cold can trigger feelings of isolation and loneliness. I went through a bad spell one December when I moved and it took the electric company a week to get my service going. I was chilled for a week. No matter where I stayed, even with my friends, it was never warm enough. I felt very lonely and disengaged from the world. Years later, I emotionally flashed back to that time, when I caught a good chill and couldn't shake it. The feelings of loneliness and isolation returned. I took a hot bath and it went away. I did a little research for this post and found that people who take hot baths do not experience feelings of loneliness as often as those who don't.
- Take Time to Remember. Honor the ones you miss by talking about them with other loved ones, journaling or artistically expressing your relationship in some way. Use your Movie Maker to put together a slide show of Holidays past, to help you heal and to share with others.
- Cut Out the Alcohol. It's a depressive. It is possible to enjoy holiday gatherings without alcohol. I swear. The emotional ups and downs involved with alcohol consumption are not going to help anyone who emotionally struggles this time of year.
- Watch your diet! It's so easy to eat way too much sugar this time of year. It's not good for your teeth. It takes your body chemistry on a roller coaster ride. Combined with the fatty foods, which are hard on the heart (so is too much sugar), you add a lot of unnecessary physical stress when you over indulge.
- Find Balance with Herbs and Vitamins. Be sure you're getting enough vitamins and minerals. Include a good multivitamin and multimineral with your diet. Vitamin D is great for counteracting the affects of sunlight deprivation. Add some St. John's Wort to your vitamin regime to alleviate "the blues". Drink some chamomile tea to relax.
- Get Plenty of Rest. Sleep deprivation makes everything seem bigger and more out of control. I'm like a little kid when I'm sleep deprived. The slightest thing can upset me. Getting at least eight hours of sleep a night will make life a lot easier to handle, it boosts your immune system and can even make you look younger. ;~D
- Get Some Oxygen. The weather's not totally bad yet. Hit your local park or get in a nice, brisk walk in your neighborhood. Fill your Self with oxygen, watch your endorphins rise and feel your spirits lift.