Sad during the holidays?

It’s OK to feel that way; here’s 11 ways to help yourself

Most Christmas songs playing on the radio, in retail stores, at the holiday parties, everywhere, will have one or all of the following words: holly, jolly, cheer, merry, joy.

But what if this holiday season, you don’t feel joyful or merry or have reason to be cheerful or jolly? The dizzying array of comings and goings — parties, shopping, traffic, baking, cleaning, traveling, decorating and entertaining — bring stress instead of joy.

In addition, the holidays can remind us of loved ones we have lost. Each major holiday without them can bring profound sadness instead of joy. Rather than celebrating, the to-do list turns into stay-home-and-wait-it-out.

Add the financial and often unrealistic pressure of gift-giving, cold weather and lack of sunlight, holiday blues is very real.

If you can identify, you are not alone. The holiday blues are a relatively common phenomenon. Some people even become clinically depressed. But you can approach this season with some new defenses to help you cope with these feelings.

Here are some coping strategies for the holiday blues:

1.  Admit that this is a sad season for you and give yourself permission to feel that way.
2.  Vent your feelings with a trusted friend.
3.  Write it down. Sit down with a blank journal or page. Start with “I feel _____ about the __________ holiday,” and then write whatever comes to mind. Continue for 20 minutes. After you finish, shred the note; no one needs to know how you feel.
4.  If you live with others, delegate responsibilities. Be prepared to lower your standards, however. It doesn’t matter if others don’t do things the same way you do.
5.  Pick one person in your life to forgive for something.
6.  Identify a charity and a way you can help. Then do it.
7.  Stay on a regular schedule as much as possible regarding food, exercise, chores and sleep.
8.  Reduce spending on gifts for kids. If you can’t give kids everything they want, they benefit from learning to cope with life’s disappointments.
9.  If you experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, get as much sunlight as you can. Buy a therapeutic sunlamp if you can afford one.
10.  Exercise a bit more during the holidays. Physical exercise not only helps you avoid weight gain, it also improves brain function and relieves stress.
11.  If you have symptoms of clinical depression this season, such as loss of pleasure in things you usually enjoy, or if you find yourself feeling increasingly sad, hopeless, numb, guilty, angry or feeling that life is not worth living, it is time to get professional help. Make an appointment with your medical provider right away, or call one of the numbers below for help.

24-hour Hope Now Hotline: (502) 589-4313 or (800) 221-0446

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