Monday, December 10, 2012

Blue at Christmas?

Here at the "A Time for All" Blog I mainly like to keep things light and breezy, but I thought it would be good to tackle the important subject of Christmas Blues. While feeling "down" or depressed is tough at any time of year, it can feel especially difficult when you are expected to be making the rounds of parties and when everywhere you look, even at ads and on television shows, people are pictured looking excited and caught up in some sort of Christmas magic (brought on by being given the gift of whatever product the ad is selling, of course.)

There are lots of reasons that people are sad at Christmastime, and Christmastime sadness knows no boundaries of age, gender, income level or any other category of person. I have been there, myself, plenty of times. 

  • Maybe you have experienced a loss recently, or around this time of year. It could be a death, or other loss, such as a divorce, a move, or even becoming an "empty nester."
  • Maybe you are not feeling well physically at the moment.
  • Maybe you are unable to be with loved ones with whom you had hoped spend the holidays.
  • Maybe your financial circumstances are difficult, making your usual holiday merriment a challenge to afford.
  • Maybe work or other obligations have left you with no energy for your usual holiday traditions.
  • Understand that what you are feeling is normal and not uncommon. You are not alone, and there is nothing wrong with you. "Beating yourself up" because you don't feel happy at a time of year that is supposed to be happy will only make things worse. Give yourself a pass. 
  • Take care of your needs. If you are sick, don't overdo it. If you are sad, allow yourself to have a good cry now and again, but don't "wallow" all the time.  After you cry, dry your tears and find something cheerful to do. Listen to happy music, or call a friend and go to a movie. If your sadness has persisted for more than two weeks or is interfering with your work and usual activities, see your doctor for a physical checkup and make sure to mention that you have felt "down" or "off" recently.
  • If you are mourning someone who has died, try and include something in your holiday celebration that will help you remember the person. For example, the Christmas after my mom died, I baked her cutout cookie recipe for my family. You could do something like place framed photos of the person from Christmases past. This might make it more difficult the first time you do it but in the long run it is a good way to get past the saddest part of grieving.
  • Eat well, exercise and avoid consuming a lot of "vices" like rich food, alcohol or tobacco. Alcohol is a depressant, so if you are feeling sad, maybe it's best to avoid it all together. 
  • Don't be afraid to mix up traditions. A tradition is a shortcut to help people get into the proper frame of mind and heart. If a "tradition" doesn't work for you anymore, don't be afraid to change things up. Sometimes just a little tweak is all you need. 
  • If you aren't feeling yourself, be honest about your feelings with those close to you. There is no reason to lay a heavy burden on others, especially if they are grieving the same loss as you, but sometimes a little honesty helps people stop going through the motions and helps bring changes to the holiday season that are healing. 
  • Do something for somebody else. Sometimes what you need to feel better is to know that you are not alone. There are plenty of charities that can use help this time of year, or maybe you could reach out with a phone call, a letter or an invitation to someone else you know who could use a friend.
  • Make room for spirituality. Pray. Read scripture. Listen to inspiring music. Attend a "Blue Christmas" worship service near you.
O God of all seasons and senses, grant us the sense of your timing to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly in the turn of the seasons.
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of endings;
children growing, friends leaving, loved ones dying,
grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born—
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love—
in the fullness of your time.

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