The holiday season is, unfortunately, one of the busiest times of the year for counselors. During this time when we’re “supposed” to be cheerful and bright, we miss those we’ve lost. It’s a time of year when we feel the absence of loved ones the most.
For others, the issue is less about missing a loved one and more about the simple wish to feel loved – or at least wanted. If you’re already depressed, if you feel like you’re alone in the world, or if you feel like no one cares, then the holiday season amplifies these feelings and you feel worse, not better. And it certainly doesn’t help when everyone around you seems to be happy. What’s worse is when they tell you to smile or begin a sentence with “why don’t you…” and end their question with some platitude that only confirms that nobody gets what you’re going through. Ugh!
We want you to know you’re not alone. In fact, A LOT of people feel crappy during the holidays. We don’t mean to be unprofessional by using a word like “crappy,” but, honestly, it really is the best adjective in this case, don’t you think? After all, no one feels the exact same as you, and it would be wrong for us to cram everyone into the same emotional box. Yet it’s true that you’re not alone and many people just wish the holidays could be over already. The holiday blues strike many more people than you would guess, based on their outward demeanor. However, the unfortunate truth is that many, many people struggle with their feelings during this time of year.
Some people even feel so bad that they think of hurting themselves. If this is you, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Don’t even finish reading this post! Just click on the phone number and talk to someone who’s prepared to help you right now.
If you’re not one of the people who feel like the world would be better off without them (trust us, that’s never true!) and you’re just trying to figure out what you can do to make it through the holiday blues without hating yourself or everyone around you, then give us a call. We get it. Really, we do. And we know it sucks. We won’t judge you or tell you that you have to change. Because your feelings are real, and they’re part of you, and you don’t have to change if you don’t want to. But, with that said, it might be time to figure out a healthier way of facing the holidays, and that is what we’re best at.
We can help you learn to cope. We can help you learn to manage your holiday blues and other emotions. We can help you learn to function, even in the face of feelings that used to leave you feeling broken and alone and unwilling to even breathe. … Grief, depression, trauma, and anxiety are all big deals. They can all make normal days feel unbearable, and they definitely don’t get any easier to deal with during the holidays.
Coping with the holiday blues is never easy, but there are a few things you can do to alleviate the loneliness, depression, anxiety, or other emotions you might be feeling.
The first thing to do is give yourself permission to feel the way you do. It’s OK. It’s also normal. So, be gentle with yourself.
The second thing to do is try to understand where your thoughts and feelings originate. This task can be very difficult, and it’s where a good counselor can help you the most. When we learn to think about our emotions, we can cope with them more effectively. If thinking about and understanding the source of your thoughts and feelings seems like an impossible task, then begin by trying to put labels on your emotions. Try to be more specific than, “I feel lonely” or “I am sad” by adding the word “because” to the end. This process will help you because it acknowledges that the things you feel are real in addition to helping you understand why you feel the way you do.
Putting a label on the things you feel is like attaching a handle to them, and it allows you to carry them as well as decide when and where to put them down. You are in control, and you can make the decision to carry your emotions or not. Sometimes we need to carry them, and the only person who can determine what’s most appropriate for you is you.
The third thing to do is explore new ways of being. If the things you’ve been doing aren’t working for you, then it might be time to switch things up a little bit. If you’re spending a lot of time alone, try finding someone to hang out with. If your faith is important to you but you haven’t been attending services lately, then try going to church. If you miss exercising, then try to get back into a routine of working out. But, whatever you do, don’t expect to be “better” after just one time of doing something different than you’ve been doing. It’s going to take time, and you’re going to need to experiment a little before you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
A lot of the process can be done without help from us or any other counselor. We understand that fact. However, the counseling process works remarkably well, and sometimes it’s just nice to know someone is working through the issues with you, even when you’re pretty sure you can do it on your own. So, with that said, we hope you’ll reach out to us and ask for help. But even if don’t, we wish you health and peace during this holiday season.