Beating the blues
It’s the season to be merry, but for some the holidays can be anxiety-ridden, writes FARZANA SHAKIR
The holiday season is here again and the atmosphere is charged with good cheer. Most people are awaiting a relaxed, fun-filled interlude with family and friends. I say ‘most people’ as opposed to ‘everyone’, because there are some who dread the advent of the seasonal break and experience holiday blues during this time of the year.
The sad state
Holiday sadness really does exist and is very similar to depression. It could be brought about by a number of factors: being alone when everyone else seems to be having a great time with their families and friends, feeling overwhelmed at the thought of all the work involved in getting celebrations off the ground, remembering loved ones who are no longer in our lives, remembering times when we were happier, thinking of ex-partners and family members with whom things have soured. All of these and many more reasons can contribute to a feeling of sadness and hopelessness. But the good news is that holiday blues are generally short-lived. They come and go with the festive season. It is also a fact that more people experience holiday depression during the December long holidays when Christmas, New Year and other celebrations come in quick succession. This can leave people over-stressed and anxious, resulting in them feeling down.
Here are some ways to combat holiday blues if you suffer from them, or put remedial measures in place for someone you know who may be a victim.
Share the workload
Many women and some men who take too much on and find out regretfully that there isn’t enough time to do it all on their own, feel overwhelmed during the holiday season. There’s shopping for gifts, shopping for the feast, cooking, cleaning, getting the house in order, looking presentable and organising a thousand other things. This can often shoot your stress levels through the roof, so the best thing to do is to delegate tasks to others, in addition to yourself. Admit that you are not superhuman, let others share the workload and try to relax. Remember you’re on holiday too and deserve to enjoy this time just as much as the others. Keep in mind that ‘many hands make light work’ and you’ll cheer up.
Financial disorganisation is a big contributor to stress during and after the holiday period. Try not to stretch your budget too much and live within your means, because impressing others with gifts, parties and jewels you can ill afford is not worth the mental stress that will inevitably follow.
“Try not to stretch your budget too much and live within your means, because impressing others with gifts, parties and jewels you can ill afford is not worth the mental stress that will inevitably follow.”
There are many amongst us who have no family living in Australia and friends are often heading back home for the holidays. If you find yourself alone during the festive season, there’s no need to feel down. Try giving the gift of your time to some charity. Spend time serving the underprivileged, volunteer for visits to nursing homes and children’s charities. You can also try helping someone you know who might be struggling. Volunteering and helping others is guaranteed to put you in a good mood, as it is the best cure for holiday sadness.
Look after yourself
It is easy to neglect oneself in the humdrum of festivity, but if you suffer from seasonal sadness it is important to look after yourself. Avoid eating junk food, too many sugary treats and alcohol. Drinking plenty of water, exercising and eating right can lift your spirits, combat blues and make you feel better instantly.
Forgive and forget
Holding on to memories of past scuffles and unpleasant encounters leads to feelings of unhappiness. In order to heal yourself and move forward it is important to let bygones be bygones. Forgive those who’ve wronged you and forget the things that hurt you in the past. Forgiveness is a liberating experience that breaks the shackles of guilt and sorrow and sets the spirit free to be merry. Try it for yourself this year!
“Forgiveness is a liberating experience that breaks the shackles of guilt and sorrow and sets the spirit free to be merry.”
If you’ve lost someone recently through death or breakup in relationship and you haven’t grieved properly, those suppressed emotions can come to fore during the festive season, making you feel blue. If that is the case, allow yourself the time to mourn, because once the grief is out of your system you’d be amazed how much lighter you feel.
Learn to say ‘no’
Setting realistic goals and pacing yourself properly, allowing enough resting time, can alleviate the symptoms of stress and depression. Sometimes depression is brought about by a feeling of not being in control where you feel obliged to do things you don’t really want to, like adhering to certain traditions for the benefit of family, inviting and visiting people you’d rather not, etc. In these circumstances it helps to just say ‘no’. It puts the power back in your hands and beats the feeling of helplessness.
So keep those feelings of dejection at bay this celebratory season by being assertive, looking after yourself and taking charge of your feelings. Have a happy holiday season!