Not everyone enjoys the holidays even though they want to. It can be difficult for people who have lost a loved one, experienced financial hardship, gone through a break-up, or are prone to depression to ring in the holidays with cheer. There are some ways to avoid having a blue Christmas, and we share some of the most effective tips here.
1. Be Proactive
If you know that your depression worsens during the holidays, plan ahead and work to put a plan in place to take care of yourself this year. You may need to increase your sessions with a therapist or counselor, join a new support group, or speak with your pastor or another confidante about your concerns. Your therapist may suggest taking other steps to combat your depression, such as getting a service dog specifically trained to help you stay connected and concentrate on your well-being.
Itís also helpful to start a routine that helps you relax even in the midst of shopping, wrapping, baking, cleaning, and decorating; stick to the routine at all costs, too. You may set aside time each morning to do yoga, each night to read, or each afternoon to take a nap.
2. Prepare to Deal with Family Conflict Constructively
If family members trigger conflicts with you, be prepared to deal with them constructively. Neutral responses and quick exits will help you remain calm. Have a friend ready to answer your texts or calls while you visit with family to help you through the tough exchanges. You also should discuss strategies for dealing with family conflict with your therapist or support group so you feel confident and prepared before entering potentially difficult family situations this holiday season.
Another option is to work on your own feelings about your family. Accept yourself and realize that you donít need anyoneís approval or acceptance to enjoy the holidays as you see fit. You should not feel guilty if you have tried to reach out and mend relationships or build bridges. Focus on doing what makes you happy during the holidays and spend more time with people who enjoy your company and who make you feel good.
3. Identify and Work Through Your Feelings
If you recently lost a loved one or a relationship, you need to explore those feelings with a therapist or a support group so the holidays are easier for you. Allow yourself to go through the stages of grief and loss and be forgiving when it comes to your feelings. Donít force yourself to go to parties and put on a smile if you are not ready. Your close friends and family members will understand that you are going through a difficult time and will respect your choices. Reach out to them or plan small, quiet gatherings when you are ready to do so.
4. Attend a Quiet Church Service
Several churches and organizations offer Blue Christmas services and events, which also may be called Longest Night services, during the holiday season. These gatherings acknowledge that people face struggles during the holiday season and provide them with a quiet place to join others experiencing difficult times to hear about love, healing, and hope. For people who donít want to hear cheery Christmas carols, pass presents, or celebrate Christmas in traditional ways, Blue Christmas services offer an alternative program that allows them to acknowledge their depression without facing judgment or ridicule.
Participating in community service activities or volunteering at a local shelter or a local nonprofit will help you focus on helping others and less on your feelings during the holidays. Search for help wanted ads in the local newspaper or contact your local government office to see which organizations can use extra help this holiday season.
If you want to do something on a smaller scale but make just as large an impact, donate to Toys for Tots, choose a local family in need to donate to, or spend time visiting a veteransí hospital or senior citizen center. Helping others always makes people feel good, and you may just find that your Christmas is a little less blue when you get involved at the local level.
You may experience depression year round, or it may worsen during the holidays. Either way, you should be prepared to seek help, deal with triggers, and acknowledge your feelings and work through them in healthy ways to avoid having a blue Christmas this year.
I found this a great article and got a lot out of the link to Blue Christmas Services. I did not know such a thing existed. How wonderful there are churches that provide a gathering for those who do not feel able to celebrate in the traditional way.
Wow. This is truly one of the most helpful articles I have read. You have really communicated really effective ways of managing when for whatever reason(s), Christmas is difficult. Personally, it gave me some great ideas. Really well thought out. I loved it. Thank you.