Coping During the Holidays

For many people, the Holiday season is a time for excitement and happiness. This is when families are "supposed" to join together and enjoy the warmth and comfort of being surrounded with love. However, for many people, this "family love" is not so warm and comfy.

There are other people who look at the Holidays as a stressed-filled time full of disappointment, anxiety, and sadness. Why would some people feel depressed? Oh, the reasons are endless.

We all become sad sometimes. We all have bad days. If you find yourself crying constantly, unable to climb out of bed in the morning, and thinking unpleasant thoughts of suicide for more than two weeks, you may have depression-along with millions of others.

When some folks think of the Holidays, they tend to glorify them. A family crowding around a beautiful, well-lit Christmas tree, singing carols and sipping spiked eggnog. A warm fire crackles and falling snow seen through the bay window.

So, when dysfunctional family of 4 shows up with nary a present in tow, refuses to sing carols because one light on your Christmas tree burnt out, and now the entire tree is dim, and the spiked eggnog is saved for another day because Uncle Joe is an alcoholic-they become disillusioned by the whole affair. Also, the fact that your sister has given you the silent treatment every year because you stole her seventh-grade boyfriend doesn't help, either. Ah, reality.

Coping Method: Realize your family is not perfect. Set realistic goals for yourself. For example, don’t expect to talk into the wee hours of the night with the relative who you are not close with. Holidays do not automatically mean that you will renew lost relationships. Just try to leave those old feelings of bitterness behind you, and see what the season brings.

If our family is "crazy" we want to be alone, but when we are alone, we just want a "crazy" family. Being alone during the Holidays can cause depression for many. Without loved ones to help decorate the tree or light the Menorah, many people feel lonely and sad. So many sappy Christmas specials on TV that show how wonderful the Holidays can be with others, but having no one to spend Holidays with.

Coping Method: If you are alone this Holiday season, you do not have to be. Volunteer in your community. Do something for someone else to take your mind off of yourself. Spend the Holidays with other caring folks, and you will not feel so alone.

Financial situations can cause stress and worry, and possible depression. Saving money during the Holidays is like breathing underwater-impossible. Between traveling, gifts, food, and entertainment, the Holidays can cost a fortune. Compiling your shopping list while keeping your budget, drives many people to drink-and not just eggnog. Then people are left with huge credit card bills and even more stress.

Coping Method: Remember, true friends do not care what you buy them. They are most likely thinking about what to give you! Stick to a price limit, and keep that limit low. For example, have your circle of friends only buy gifts for under $10 each. Remember homemade gifts and cheap gag gifts make wonderful presents!

"No, no, no…," you are thinking, "My family is wonderful. We are close and actually enjoy each others' company." So, then why are you depressed every Holiday season? Your environment can be a factor that causes the Holiday Blues.

As the Holiday months roll around, so does the Earth. In most areas of the U.S. the days become shorter in the winter, meaning the sun sets in the early evening. This untimely darkness has a negative effect on many people. They suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder appropriately acronym-ed SAD.

Coping Method: Speak with your doctor or a mental health professional. Perhaps he/she can recommend a treatment for your wintertime depression. You do not have to spend the Holidays in a frozen funk.

Depression hits when people are saddened by stresses in their lives. For many people, the relationships they keep with their family members and financial difficulties can cause conflict at any time, not just during the Holidays. Reality is, not all families get along. Not everyone has family. Not everyone has money to spend. Once people realize not all Holidays are magical like a Hallmark card, then perhaps expectations can be minimized and realistic, leaving you to relax and enjoy the time.