With all of the holiday cheer during this season, it’s hard for some people to understand how others could feel sad, lonely, or depressed. The media, retailers, and our neighbors all project the perfect holiday season, and everyone’s life looks perfect from the outside. Good cheer seems to permeate the very air we breathe! But for many people, the holidays bring loneliness, isolation, and regrets. These emotions are driven by a number of reasons, but they are valid for those who feel them.
Some people feel depressed around the holidays because they are grieving losses that have occurred during the last year. This may mean the death of loved ones or the loss of ability or even freedom of time and focus. Whatever the cause, loss requires a period of recovery and time to grieve. Others simply feel that their holiday experiences won’t measure up to our culture’s picture-perfect images of smiling families and bright, shiny packages in perfectly decorated homes.
Some people feel a physical impact with the advent of shorter days and longer nights. They are emotionally impacted by reduced light exposure, and if you are one of these people, you should consult your doctor, because there are therapies that can help with this medical condition, known as a seasonal affected disorder or SAD.
Whatever the cause of your depression, if you are one of these people who feel sadness during the holidays, don’t be hard on yourself. Very few people experience perfect holidays. And if you are a Family Caregiver, you are tasked with managing holiday observations and celebrations for others as well as for yourself.
There are things you can do to give yourself an instant mood-lift during the holidays. Bake cookies, or simply sprinkle some cinnamon on a baking sheet and pop it in a warm oven for a few minutes. Your kitchen will smell like a bakery in no time, with no added calories! Light scented candles, or make a flavored tea and sip on it while you relax in some “me” time. For longer-term mood lifters, simplify long-held holiday traditions, or ask for help from others to make everyone’s memories extra-special again this year. Explain to other family members how things have changed, and implement a plan to balance your responsibilities and obligations to those you care for with the expectations of others in your life during this special time of year.
The important thing is to remember why we celebrate this time of year. My family celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, who came to save the world from its sins. When we are focused on this point of celebration, the joy of our holiday celebrations shines through any difficulties we face.