Surviving the Holidays in Good Spirits!
- by Dr. Christina Richardson
I know when I am gripped by depression because it takes so much energy to just move. I can lose my ability and willingness to do anything. I can feel like I am moving through thick mud just to get through the day. I get cranky, sleep more than I should and am short tempered. I also feel that I'm no good to anyone and a failure.
Hugh Prather, the author of “Love and Courage” nailed me when he wrote, “No matter how good things get, my capacity to make myself unhappy is always equal to it.”
Mind, Body, Spirit
So many get the holiday blues and it is every bit as real as what I experience. Winston Churchill suffered from depression, which he referred to as the “Black Dog.” Mine is more like “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” of Sherlock Holmes fame. When that hound howls, I go into survival mode.
I talk to my friends and tell them that the hound has returned; I eat complete nourishing meals and exercise. I get enough sleep and say no when I am not up to participating. I have had years of coping and usually I can work my way out in a week or so.
All of us have an internal landscape that is imbedded in our memory, so the sights and smells, sounds and routines of the season can in an instant return us to our childhood.
If things aren’t going well due to family conflict, a death in the family, breakups, divorce, loneliness, stress at work or money issues, the holidays can be a nightmare.
The risk factors to holiday depression are setting up unrealistic expectations, trying to do too much, not taking care of yourself, and comparing yourself with others. Most families do not have the TV perfect holiday they would like to have or that they remember from their childhood.
Be good to you.
How is it that when we are with family over holidays we revert to teenagers and pick up the arguing as if we were still thirteen? We may fight with our siblings or remember all the hurts we have ever experienced. Try to treat yourself: take a walk and spend some time alone. Remember who you are now and that you have new gifts to bring to the celebration.
Say no. If you are asked to do more that you can or are not up to, say "no, thank you" or "thanks for asking, but you'll need to delegate someone else." Accept that perfection is not a requirement for enjoying the season. If decorating like a designer is your forté, go for it. If you are like me, you'll wish you could hang things from the ceiling out of reach of the pets.
Be realistic and keep your sense of humor. Focus on this year instead of the past. Create new traditions and just enjoy the people you are with. Remember what Erma Bombeck said: “Holiday dinners take about 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Halftime takes 12 minutes. This is no coincidence.”
Stay connected. Spend time with family and friends who care about you. In this holiday season of Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Chanukah, may you be with family and friends who love you.