I’ve got a confession to make.
I’m feeling kind of sad right now.
I know why. It’s the holiday blues, and for me it happens every year.
You see, my parents and grandparents have all passed away, years ago. But it’s at this time of year that I miss them most. The holidays just don’t seem the same without them, so the end of the year is always a bit tough for me.
Perhaps you’re feeling a little sad and lonely, too. Know that you are not alone. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found in a recent survey that 24% of Americans say the holiday blues affect them a lot.
By definition, the holiday blues are “temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays that can be associated with extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even memories that accompany the season” (NAMI). Other contributing factors are less sunlight at this time of year, lingering loss and grief, and the stress of increased activities and demands in an already crowded schedule. Add to that the continuing effects of the pandemic and fears of economic recession and you’ve got a recipe for emotional turmoil.
So what do we do with the holiday blues? Here are some practical tips that may help.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
It’s okay if you’re not ready for the holly and mistletoe. Give yourself a chance to cry if you need to. Maybe you need to talk it out with a trusted friend or pastor. If you’ve experienced a recent loss, consider a grief counselor or support group. Don’t isolate, and don’t try to self-medicate. Get the help you need to deal with the emotions. God’s Word says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit” (Psalm 34:18-19). Let your heavenly Father bring you comfort and peace.
Set Realistic Expectations
We sometimes expect the holidays to somehow be perfect, and are disappointed when they’re not. Or we may want things to be like they always were, but that may not be possible anymore. For instance, our children always enjoyed the big Christmas tree, but they’re grown and gone now, and my wife and I are getting older, so a small tabletop tree is simpler and better for us now. Families and circumstances change, so it’s okay to make adjustments to your celebrations as needed. Traditions are wonderful– but be open to new traditions as well.
Control Your Spending, And Practice Self-Care
So many people ring up additional debt when those sleighbells ring. But are all those things we buy really necessary? Consider experiences instead of presents. Take advantage of free holiday activities. Cocoa and carols beats overextended credit. You’ll save yourself that stress in January when you’re exhausted and the bills come in. Find new and unique ways to share your love and bring joy to others.
And don’t forget to take care of yourself as well as your wallet. Take time for a rejuvenating walk. Get enough rest. Go easy on the sugary treats. Be selective in which activities you’ll participate in, and say no to too many commitments. Remember that self-care is not selfish; take a break when you need it.
Spend Time In His Word
You may not feel like reading your Bible. Do it anyway! Read the Christmas story in Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 2, or meditate on the Psalms. Reflect on the reason for the season: God sent His Son into the world because He loves you. Let God’s light come into your darkness.
Put On The Praise
In 1 Samuel 16 we read that when King Saul was depressed, he would send for young David, whose lyre playing would soothe him. Music can be a great tool in lifting your emotions. If you aren’t up to Christmas carols yet, play some worship music. Praising the Lord will help you shift your focus.
Commit To Church
Since the pandemic, many people have stopped going to church. Christmas would be a great time to come back! Many churches have special services such as Christmas cantatas or plays. Some churches have a Blue Sunday service, often around December 21 (the longest night of the year). These services are specially designed to bring comfort to those who are grieving and feeling loss. Being involved in a church will give you a support network. As you hear the Word of God preached and experience the fellowship of others, you will be strengthened and encouraged.
Remember, the holiday blues are temporary. And above all, remember you have a heavenly Father who longs to love you. Open your heart to Him, and you’ll soon find cause for celebration!
* If you are experiencing grief because of the loss of a loved one, here is a link to a Holiday Grief Video by David Kessler that you may find helpful: https://www.davidkesslertraining.com/holiday-grief-video
“Tips For A Less-Stress Holiday” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/tips-for-a-less-stress-holiday
“The Promise of Emmanuel” http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/the-promise-of-emmanuel
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