Holidays got you down? You are not alone. For most, the holiday season is a time of joyful celebration with friends and family, but for many, it is a time of loneliness, that can lead to the holiday blues and even depression. The shortened days of winter offer less light and encourage us to hibernate; staying in bed longer, eating more food and conserving energy are all symptoms. Combine this with the perceived pressures of the holidays, with stress on both time and wallet, and it is easy to get into a funk. The blues can be worked through, while a depression is more serious and requires professional help; an online self diagnosis test can reveal where you stand. Holiday Blues often result from the pressure we place upon ourselves to make everything perfect; they are fueled by unrealistic expectations and over-commercialization. In wanting the picture perfect holiday, we often miss the joy of what is. The following are some helpful tips to staying centered in joy this holiday season and will help you to avoid the pitfalls of the post-holiday let down:
- You’ve got to give to receive: Get involved helping others; not only will you contribute to the betterment of humankind, you’ll have the opportunity to meet people of similar interests and possibly make some new friends.
- Make a list and check it twice: A state of gratitude attracts more blessings into your life; each day list five reasons you have to be grateful. Still not happy? Make a wish list; if you believe your dreams are possible, they may come true.
- Get direction: Where do you want to be in life? Who do you hope to become? Often we get down on ourselves because we feel confused about where we are going, or feel stuck in a rut; take time now to explore the possibilities for your life. Choose three priorities for the year and commit to following decisive steps towards the fulfillment of your goals.
- No playing God: Don’t take on too many responsibilities or try to do all the holiday planning, cooking, shopping and decorating alone; turn chores into an opportunity for bonding time with family and friends by divvying up the load and sharing in the experience.
- Just Breathe: When you are anxious or stressed – just breathe. When you are tired and in need of a boost just breathe. You can restart your day in one minute with simple breathing techniques: Place one hand on your lower abdomen and the other upon your chest; slowly take in a deep breath while expanding your stomach out, pull the air upwards, and into your lungs. Feel your lungs open and expand, feel this powerful life force spreading through your entire body-every organ and every cell. BREATHE. Inhale joy, strength, peace and vitality while releasing any blocks on the exhale.
- Sun Rise, Sun Set: If you want to jump start your system and realign with your natural rhythm, start and finish each day by watching the sun rise and set. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects millions each winter, causing a decline in mood, or a depression, due to lack of sunlight. Just twenty minutes a day can increase melatonin and release other powerful chemicals, which will uplift and stabilize your mood.
- Get help: If you have experienced a dramatic change in eating or sleeping patterns, lasting longer than four weeks, with a decline in your energy, interest and mood, you may be depressed. If you are unsure if you are at risk for, or currently in a depression, the following web sites offer a vast array of resources that will assist and guide you:
National Mental Health Association
2001 N. Beauregard Street, 12th Floor
Alexandria, VA 22311
Mental Health Resource Center 800/969-NMHA
TTY Line 800/433-5959
Everyday you wake there is cause for celebration