A dear friend recently confided that he was feeling surprisingly sad and empty as this particular Christmas draws near. I was somewhat taken aback at this because he is an outwardly happy and very successful man. He elaborated that he understands he has nothing to feel sad about, and that's what makes situational depression so confusing. This person enjoys a great career, has a wonderful family, and many dear friends who care, but none of it seems to matter as the depression settles upon him. I can assure you that my friend is far from alone in these feelings. Add the struggling economy to this season's holiday picture and it's no wonder the national suicide rate is up.
Consider a few simple suggestions for coping with the holiday blues:
Don’t compare this day with any previous holiday or your picture of some ideal holiday. Look for and relish each pleasure, however small, as it comes and in whatever form. Don’t see all the preparation as a means to obtaining some climactic moment. Try to find happiness in each smaller activity leading up to that special celebration. You'll often find your real holiday spirit in the planning, shopping, baking, decorating, and wrapping. Savor the small moments wherever you find them.
2) Look up old friends
If you’re feeling down, just contact someone you haven't spoken to in awhile. Visit a long-lost friend or relative, even that crotchety old uncle, the one who is probably feeling pretty lonely now, too. Choosing to get yourself out among people - especially new people - regardless of your own situation or how you feel will help to reduce any feeling of disconnectedness.
3) Focus on others (and get out of your own head)
Giving is also an effective way of lessening or even eliminating feelings of sadness and loneliness. When you choose to help others who are less fortunate, you connect with your fellow man and this glorious world we all share. We are in this together! Even volunteering for just a few hours at the local shelter, soup kitchen, animal shelter, or your favorite non-profit can put you back in the true spirit of the holidays.
4) Pamper yourself
Most important, remember to take care of you. Get some exercise. Treat yourself to a massage, facial or pedicure (guys, this means you, too); indulge in your favorite hobby for an entire weekend, or settle in with a favorite movie or a good, thick book. Giving in to that dark mood is a choice - your choice. Instead, choose happiness. The trick is to lift your spirits and recreate this holiday season in ways that are rewarding to you.
My best wishes to you and yours for a warm, satisfying holiday season!