You Are Not Alone
The thought of joining family members to celebrate Christmas may fill you with dread, resulting in feelings of guilt. Painful memories may reappear each Christmas, making you want to crawl into a hole and just wait it out. Perhaps you have lost someone close to you, and Christmas makes you think of him or her. This is the message I want you to hear: You are not alone. There are ways to cope and even to be able to partake in a little joy during the season. Here are some suggestions that can help you during this time.
1) Acknowledge Your Feelings
Take time to listen to the chatter going on inside you. What is it that is making you feel sad? What is triggering your depression? Write about the memories you have of your lost loved one. Sometimes our present depression is rooted in past experiences that go back as far as childhood. Often the professional help of a Christian counselor can be a healthy tool to help you talk about your memories and past experiences. This cannot only assist you in getting through this holiday season productively, but it can also enable you to reach new levels of enjoyment and insight.
2) Reach Out
As you recall certain memories of your loved one, you may want to share them with another trusted person. If you find yourself spiraling into a dark pit, perhaps you can find the energy to attend a social gathering or even to volunteer an hour of your time at a local shelter or community organization. Consider calling a friend who lives out of state, or reach out and approach a Christian counselor during this season. Remember that even though you may feel alone, you do not have to be alone.
3) Be Realistic
If you are hosting a Christmas gathering, consider your time and energy levels and decide what you are really capable of doing based on this. Assign tasks to others once you have clarified your own limits. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and admit where you feel limited. If there are major, ongoing differences between family members, acknowledge that Christmas is not going to be the “perfect” time. Set aside those differences and ask for emotional support from a trusted other. Budget what you can and cannot spend on gifts this year, and plan ahead as much as possible.
4) Take a Breather
Set aside an hour here and there so that you can rejuvenate. Book a massage. Read a good book. Light candles and listen to music. Whatever it is you do to relax, take time to do it. If this brings feelings of guilt, press on through those feelings. You need this time in order to make the most of the holiday season.
Don’t let the holidays become something you dread, but rather take concrete steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend on you during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so that you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you will be able to find peace and joy during the holidays. Please do not remain an “outsider” and freeze to death during this season of warmth.
Consider Seeking Help From a Christian Counselor
If you are someone who dreads the holiday season, remember that there is help available. This article has outlined some of the steps that you can take so that you don’t have to remain an “outsider” to the joy of the season. One of these steps could involve contacting a Christian counselor who can accompany you as you work through the emotions that this season evokes in you.
Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping (Mayo Clinic staff).
Depression During the Holidays: Gripped by the Archetype of the Outsider. Published on December 19, 2011 by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. in Attending to the Undervalued Self