Christmas is a time of cheer and goodwill for some folks. For others, the holiday season aggravates depression. Holiday joy brings on bouts of grief, loneliness, worry, stress, guilt and frustration. Bad memories, negative experiences and feelings of sadness can be more overwhelming at Christmas. Why the negativity during what is supposed to be a joyous holiday? For that very reason–holiday blues and loneliness seem out of place in the festive, joyous season. Whether that joy is more facade, commercialism and tinsel than reality, Christmas certainly appears joyous. So Loneliness and depression are magnified when you feel like all the world is celebrating but you. Here are holiday blues prevention tips, positivity to counteract negativity and emotional help for Christmas depression and loneliness.
First, if you are battling loneliness, grief or depression, avoid triggers to those feelings. Stay away from places that make you feel lonely, depressed or sad. Perhaps you were in a relationship that ended and the holidays evoke painful memories of that relationship. Don’t go to the places that you went together. Seek out new, fresh venues with different faces. Make new happier memories. Avoid bars if you’re alone–everyone may seem to be happy but in really, most are just as lonely and sad. And pouring alcohol on holiday blues just makes them worse.
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday, visit the cemetery where they are buried. Talk with them. Tell them how much you miss them. If you can’t make it to the cemetery, light a candle in their memory. Place a few special mementos nearby: photos, a gift from that person, something they once owned. All religions recognize the emotional healing power in lighting a memorial candle. Play music that helps you access and process feelings. Allow yourself to grieve as much as you need to, whether the loss occurred two months or twenty years ago.
Avoid stores. Shopping in large retail stores can create more loneliness and emotional problems. The commercialism of Christmas increases depression. Shopping may feel superficial and empty. If you do a holiday gift exchange, make personal homemade presents. Give gifts of crafts, cooking, wood-working, poetry, art and music. Sharing of your talent will be healing for you and most appreciated by loved ones. You have the added benefit of financial peace of mind come January when no overwhelming holiday shopping bills come rolling in.
The Greek teacher Socrates said, “Know thyself” and this is especially good advice for holiday blues. Are you a loner who prefers cuddling in a blanket with a book? Then indulge that source of inner peace. Are you an extrovert who loves big parties? Then call a friend and make the rounds this season. Didn’t receive any party invitations? Host your own Christmas party. Or hit some of the local night spots. Check out your community holiday events calendar. Reach out and get to know people. Buy a round of drinks or ask someone to dance. Find emotional healing in the company of others.
Know that you are not alone in the holiday blues. John Donne said, “No man is an island unto himself.”There are many lonely people who think they’re the only one home alone Christmas Eve. They’re not, but they have to reach out to find friendship. If it’s too uncomfortable for you to physically reach out, Daily Strength can connect you with a support group for just about any issue: illness, emotional health, substance abuse, survivor, family, parenting, grief support. People in forum threads respond positively, maturely, wisely and compassionately to each other. The forum also has protocol guidelines to protect you from connecting with dangerous people inadvertently.