It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For many of us, that is. For some, however, Christmas can be an incredibly difficult and painful time. The fact is, Christmas can and will trigger stress, sadness, loneliness and depression for millions of people across the world. This time of year is full of expectations of joy and of love and of happiness. But what happens if your expectations fall short? There are numerous factors that contribute to the so-called ‘’Christmas blues’’. In my experience in the therapy room however, there are two major culprits that tend to be felt hard during this holiday season.
Loneliness: Be it due to grief of a loved one, a break-up, a family rift or a lack of significant relationships in your life, Christmas tends to make the sense of loneliness seem that much more apparent.
What can you do about it?
Whilst, of course, this holiday season accentuates the pressure to ‘‘belong’’ to others, the paramount concern is that you are looking after yourself. If you do find yourself alone this Christmas time, do your utmost to take optimum care of yourself. Take care of your sleep patterns and eat healthily. Be mindful of your alcohol intake. Take some time to do something that you enjoy, be that watching a film or taking a walk.
Reaching out to others who may also be lonely is another way to tackle the sense of loneliness. This includes animals, the elderly, or people in need. If it is a possibility for you, consider adopting or even the act feeding a stray dog. The island is rife with these marvellous souls that are in desperate need of love, of care and companionship. The healing and therapeutic advantages that these wonderful animals can offer is a sure way to ease the pain of loneliness. As an endeavour, volunteering to help those in need can be an incredibly rewarding and uplifting experience that in turn allows you to see that you are not alone in your isolation.
Be mindful of the impact that your loneliness is having upon your well-being. If you are worried about your health or if you find that you are experiencing negative or suicidal thoughts, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or a mental health professional right away for some additional support. The counselling process is something to consider and may prove incredibly beneficial to you, particularly if you are experiencing the intensity of grief or estrangement. If you are aware of somebody that is struggling with loneliness this Christmas, take some time to visit them or pick up the phone. Just ten minutes can make all of the difference to someone’s day.
Finance: The financial implications of Christmas can be massive. It can feel incredibly shameful if you are not able to afford the Christmas that lives up to the expectations of family members, particularly children.
What can you do about it?
The quest for the perfect Christmas, adorned with all the gifts and trimmings that you can possibly think of, is a tall order. The main rule to be aware of, each and every Christmas time comes around, is a simple one: don’t buy things that you cannot afford. Rather than reaching for the credit card, take a stand and be open with your loved ones that although you wish that you could buy them an extravagant gift, you simply cannot afford it. Consider for a moment how absurd it is that we feel shame when the very act and reason of giving in the first place is as a gesture of love. If loved ones do not understand it says a lot more about them than it does about you, particularly where adults are concerned. When it comes to the children, be mindful that it is your presence, your love and your care during this time that they will remember in years to come.
If you know of somebody experiencing financial difficulty this Christmas, normalise the experience and remind them what really matters at this time of year.
Do not suffer alone this Christmas
There are signs to watch out for when it comes to depression that the ‘‘Christmas blues’’ can trigger. They include but are not limited to, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, overwhelming emotion, sadness, despondency, fatigue and irritability, a wish to isolate yourself or a difficulty concentrating on basic tasks. If you or someone that you know are experiencing these symptoms, they could well be indicators of depression.
Remember that Christmas lasts but a few days. The occasion will soon pass, however, your stress, your depression or your experience of loneliness will remain. Rather than carry your difficulties into the New Year, seize the opportunity to confront your issues in a positive and helpful way. If you find that you are struggling this Christmas time, talk to someone. Do not hesitate to contact your doctor or a mental health professional, a family member or a trusted friend. Seeking counselling support is a great option should you wish to work through your feelings with a confidential and safe setting.
Best wishes to you this Christmas time,
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