For many, the holidays are a lonely time, or a time of emotional upheaval. The reasons vary. Seasonal depression, the frenetic pace, commercialism, economic hardships, or family relationship issues surrounding the Christmas season are a few. They leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. There are ways to make special moments or days that don’t require any of those things. Here are a few to consider:
Fresh air and long drives or walks
Last year I was so depressed and overwhelmed at Christmas I cancelled all my plans. I didn’t even go to Christmas Eve services which would allow me to remember the true reason for the season. A strange thing happened, though, on Christmas morning. No, Santa did not leave me something in my stocking. I woke up with my burden lifted. The pressure was off, and I went for a long and lovely walk with my best friend Nellie (my collie). We just enjoyed the silence during the walk, we drank in the cold crisp air, and we loved being with each other. I came home with an immense sense of gratitude for all that we had experienced.
I am not promoting isolation from the world, but it’s okay if you need a one day alone. Experiencing creation and a change of scene can offer a new perspective.
So, let’s say that the weather is horrid outside. This is a good time to find a big chair, make a fire, light a candle, fix a cup of hot tea or cocoa, and put on a CD (doesn’t have to be Christmas music). For me, I would add Nellie to the picture. Nothing is more soothing than sitting with her and stroking her. Enjoy all the senses these things bring. It won’t solve your problems, it won’t cure you if you have a mental disorder, but it will bring you pleasure for a moment in time, and hopefully show you that doing this sort of thing regularly when things get hard will give you a better quality of life.
Find safe people to spend time with
One of the greatest stressors during the holiday season is family drama, disputes, and unhealthy communications. If the situation is dire and possible set you way back, for everyone involved, give yourself permission to seek out friends or family that are safe, and spend your time with them. Talk to a therapist or trusted friend beforehand and ask them how you might tell your family that you won’t be available or only for a limited time without guilt and getting sucked into arguments. The support of one good friend can be invaluable. Holidays are for celebrations, and if the people and the activities are unhealthy, you are not celebrating.
Seek out AA or other 12-Step meetings
For those in recovery from alcohol and drugs, holiday stress can make it very easy to relapse. Many AA meetings are held round the clock during the holidays. Find one and go. You will be surprised at how much it helps being with others going through the same issues as you.
When we are anxious and depressed we may not think we have anything to be grateful for. But there is always something to be grateful for. When things get bad for me, I thank God for my grandchildren, for a roof over my head, and for my faithful companion, Nellie. It doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list, just three things. When you are done writing your three (or more) things, take a few minutes and bask in your thanksgiving. Appreciate what you do have.
Using these suggestions will add to your repertoire. It’s all about being a part of your own recovery.