How to beat the holiday blues is something that many of us have to deal with each year and few talk about. Holiday blues happen for a number of reasons.
The sun shines much less in the winter than the rest of the year. December 21 is the shortest day of the year, and let’s face it, a 5PM sunset doesn’t do much for the mood. And if you live in Alaska? You’d best get one of those lights that cheers you up, as it’s dark a lot up in that neck of the woods.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing. Some folks are affected by the lack of light, some are not. For those that are, they can try light therapy. There are lamps and boxes to use and they have very good results.
I’m lucky I’ve not been affected by this one (and the time change doesn’t do a thing to me!) I have a number of friends who are affected, and I feel for them. And, that time of year happens to be during the holidays in the northern hemisphere, thus, holiday blues!
People are lonely for all kinds of reasons. The holidays tend to shine a light on the fact they are alone, which makes them…more lonely. Whether you are far from home, have lost a spouse/significant other/family member/bestie, or you don’t have family, it can be tough. Watching the people around you dripping in the holiday spirit can be very overwhelming and make a person blue! The tendency is to close the doors and climb under the blanket, aka invisibility cloak, and be one with the TV. While that’s one way to go, there are others that are more uplifting. (I like the invisibility cloak!)
If the loneliness part of the holiday blues grab on and suck the air out of you, try shaking them off by volunteering (soup kitchen, toy drive, etc.) or accepting an invite you’ve never accepted before (even if you aren’t in the mood.) Sharing the day with others is the best medicine, and while it’s not a cure, it can make you feel better for a bit. And don’t forget to call those far away. It’s amazing what the sound of their voice will do for you.
Seriously, the holidays add up, and that can bring on…you guessed it, the holiday blues! Unless you’re an awesome planner or you have a robust savings account dedicated to such things, there’s a lot to be spent in the weeks between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve. Sometimes we just don’t have it to spend. Sometimes we have it but then something comes up and we wish we hadn’t. And sometimes we just go for it and deal with the bill in January.
All of those things add up to major stress and anxiety. So, what’s a person to do?
Decide this year that next year will be easier. Make a budget and stick to it. Set aside a few dollars each paycheck beginning in January so you can manage the spending. And, yes, be prepared for the unexpected. Saving a little each month, even if it’s only $10 a paycheck, can really add up come November! Fight those holiday blues with a holiday FUND!
And that’s if you want to start shopping at the beginning of November! Try it, I think you’ll like it and have much less anxiety next year!
We’ve all witnessed the insanity of holiday dramatics. There’s the person who’s efforts to make everything perfect ruin it for everyone. The person who thinks everyone should love the holidays as much as they do and forces you to love them too. The family fights. The arguments over money. Ill-behaved children. You see where I’m going here?
Each of these things can contribute to less than holly-jolly self. I know for me, Holiday Dramatics is my kryptonite.
Memories of Christmas Past
In my case, it’s the things that happened when I was a teen that has affected me during the last 40 years. My grandmother died when I was 12. She used to do a wonderful Christmas Eve, with dinner and presents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Santa always came to their house early, just for us. When she died, the mother had a breakdown of sorts. She never really recovered and she did her damnedest to take me down with her.
The family drifted apart and began to make their own traditions. Good for them! She didn’t take this well. It hit a point where she would fix the nice dinner on Christmas Eve for my grandpa’s sake and then check out. She went through the motions on Christmas day, but most of the Christmases over the next several years were filled with her emotions and my trying to avoid them.
She thought it was brilliant to serve leftover ham from Christmas Eve with a loaf of bread and some condiments. It was “feed yourself and be sure to grab some leftovers.” While it WAS brilliant (I totally see that as an adult,) the sentiment was, “I hate Christmas so I’m not doing it and I’m going to mope the rest of the day.” I don’t know if my brother ever caught on to this, but me? I got ALL the honest emotions from her.
When I moved cross country, she declared she was never having Christmas again. That was a lovely thing to do to the family that was there, don’t you think? When I would call on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, she took great pains to be nothing short of nasty and suck the joy out of me. It was all about making me feel guilty that she was so miserable. (That became a common theme in her later years, but I digress.)
Is it better now that she’s gone?
Not really. I subconsciously dread the holiday season from mid-November to New Years. I have people who I spend the holidays with who are the complete opposite of her. But she lingers in the back of my mind, digging at me and bringing me down. It is almost a habit I have that I’m trying to break.
How Am I Managing the Holiday Blues?
First, I kinda forgot who close we are to Christmas. I totally missed the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, madness. I woke up a few days ago and realized, I’d best make a plan!
I purchased my first Christmas gifts today. I went to my old friend Amazon because I missed the fact it was the middle of December and guaranteed delivery by December 24 is not so guaranteed now. I’ve asked Amazon to wrap them and Prime to get them there by the 18th. While it feels a bit…like I’m cheating, doing so really took the pressure off and while I feel like a slug, I’m very relieved. Plus, I have agonized over the perfect gifts, and Amazon had them!
I will finish up for the folks in town I celebrate with next week. I have a plan, and I won’t spend a lot. I’ve been setting a bit aside each paycheck to handle it.
I’m trying not to be a Scrooge about the Christmas music that has been playing since mid-November. I’m looking forward to 24 Hours of A Christmas Story. I am happy to be included with my Florida family during this time.
Mostly, I will try not to feel guilty for indulging in a little holiday cheer.
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