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Christmas – Healing the Holiday Blues – 10 Top Tips for Turning the Blues Around!
There is another side to the much-claimed holiday cheer, optimism, hope, generosity, peace on earth and good wishes for all. For some there is a dark side present known as the holiday blues. It can be filled with self-criticism, loneliness, self-doubt, stress, anxiety and pessimism.
Images of happy couples and happy families all having the perfect holiday can be a trigger for a spiral down the road of self-judgment and emotional pain. These constant images and early reminders can be painful and disturbing or even intense emotional triggers to others. The solution is to recognize your triggers, find ways to respond to those triggers so you can turn them into a positive and have realistic expectations and achievable goals for the holiday season. However, it is better to consult a doctor when the feelings of the “blues” linger for more than a couple of weeks. In this case it can be depression. If left untreated, depression can become a serious and life-threatening illness.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the “holiday blues”, such as stress, fatigue, troubled family relationships, the loss of a loved one, lack of sunlight, images in the media, unrealistic expectations and financial constraints. These factors can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, stress, anger or tension. There may be changes in sleep patterns, a lack of energy, headaches, restlessness, anxiety, decreased interest in favorite activities, or excessive drinking, eating and feelings of guilt. While others may not feel fulfilled as one would like, others get stuck in the blame game, compare themselves with others and indulge in a pity party “They all seem so happy and prosperous why can’t I, what’s wrong with me?”
Emotional pain is part of being human and we want to be aware of and feel our emotions. Learn from them and let them go. Experts tell us that depression often freezes anger or grief. You may want to know the symptoms of “depression” and know when to seek medical help. You can take a self-help test online to see where you stand. There are several tests –
Self-Assessment Tests including the Wakefield Questionnaire are available at the “Journey of the Hearts” online healing site. This site helps visitors to assess their level of depression.
Here are some survival strategies to deal with the blues. Remember to make your own list that you can have on hand and ready to refer to whenever you recognize the feelings in the “Blues” surface. Do one thing on your list and if it doesn’t work try another one on the list. If you get to the stage where nothing seems to help it is time to consider an evaluation for depression.
1. Choose to surround yourself with supportive and positive people and limit as much as possible your time with negative family, friends or colleagues. If this is difficult choose to change the subject to a positive one. They will soon receive the message or back out. Remember misery loves misery!
2. Give. Yes, go donate your time and help out at a charity or a nursing home. It’s amazing how much better you can feel when you give of yourself and help others less fortunate than yourself. This is also a wonderful way to rekindle the true spirit of Christmas with acts of selfless giving.
3. If you feel lonely, look for ways to make new friends – join a new club, organization, sports group or self-help group or interest group for example. Knitting, reading books, cycling, bush walking. Do something you haven’t done before. Extend yourself to make new friends. But find something that you have an interest in.
4. Set healthy boundaries when socializing or going to work or family functions. Make a deal with yourself, for example, have a slice of cake and an alcoholic drink and avoid the rounds of grilling. Give yourself strategies you can put in place when you’re out so you don’t offend your host and don’t overdo it so you feel tired and heavy.
5. Set realistic goals and expectations for the holidays. You don’t have to say yes to every invitation. You don’t have to have all your friends over for dinner and parties. Set a budget and plan ahead with a to-do list for each month leading up to the holidays so you won’t be overwhelmed when they arrive. Think about and write a list of gifts that do not involve money such as time, support and shared memories such as visiting a family, sharing photos and memories, reading an inspirational Christmas story with your family every night.
6. Try a new practice to overcome harsh self-criticism. Sit down, close your eyes and think about a part of you that you find difficult to accept or find yourself criticizing. Think of someone you admire or respect. Visualize them fully accepting you as you are, forgiving you for not accepting yourself and telling you you are ok. Then think about this gift of this learning. Ask yourself how accepting and loving this part of you can make you a better person. What he wants to teach you about life – look for the positive – it will heal you and make you stronger.
7. Learning how to meditate can be a great way to get in touch with feelings and a way to release tension in body and mind. You can start right now by closing your eyes and breathing deeply for 5-10 minutes every day and watching your thoughts and allowing them to drift.
8. Find joy to lift you up. Write a list of things that you remember to be fun. For example it could simply make a hot chocolate and sip it as you, take time outside and watch the birds in a tree for 5 minutes. It may be watching a funny movie, playing a piece of uplifting music or reading a chapter of a favorite inspirational book.
9. Get some form of exercise. Experts now tell us that some form of exercise 30 minutes four to five times a week can be an effective anti-depressant. Try yoga, an exercise class at a gym, join a walking club or just commit to turning off the TV and going for a brisk walk every night. Try different types of exercise until you find one you like and commit to it every week. Not only will you feel better emotionally but you will be physically healthier as well.
10. Practice gratitude. Value your life, your experiences and the people around you. As you walk remember all the things you have to be thankful for and remember to be thankful for the time you spent with the loved ones you may have lost this year.
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