The Truth About the Holiday Blues

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What it is, How to Cope and How Your Family Can Help

Written by: Camille Lucy
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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While it can be an absolutely amazing time for some, the holiday season tends to bring with it a sense of loneliness, separation and increased stress (such as finances, pressure, unrealistic expectations) in others. National Alliance on Mental Illness medical director Ken Duckworth said, “For many people the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year. What our survey shows is a tremendous need for people to reach out and watch out for each other in keeping with the spirit of the season.”
According to Psychology Today:
  • 38% of people surveyed said their stress level increased during the holiday season (with top stressors including lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving, and family gatherings).
  • 56% of respondents reported they experienced the most amount of stress at work.
  • 29% experienced greater amounts of stress at home.
  • 53% of people experienced financial stress due to holiday spending, despite the fact more than half set budgets for their holiday spending.
Here are a list of ways to cope with Holiday Stress, anxiety and depression:
  • Be realisticSet realistic goals for yourself this holiday season, and pace yourself! Do not take on more responsibility than you can handle, or than you need to. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” You cannot please everyone, all the time. Your well-being comes first. And your own family and children. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, why not spend some quiet, QT with the little ones or spouse?
  • PrioritizeMake a list of what needs to get done, and when. Prioritize the important items on the list. And again, be realistic about you can and cannot do. And why not see what you can get everyone involved in helping you with!
  • Stay Present. It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Try to remember to take some time to breathe, ground yourself in the present moment and give yourself permission to Be Here Now. Enjoy the holiday time. Slow down… take it all in. Cherish it. There is no rush. Your children will also benefit from this undivided attention; not only does it teach them about mindfulness, they feel also seen, heard and loved.
  • Volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to give and receive simultaneously.  If you feel lonely, lending a hand cultivates a sense of comfort and community.
  • Think Free or Low Cost. Find some free holiday activities to participate in! Check out some local decorations, light shows, window shopping, enjoying the winter weather or sports. Bonus: Kids love all of the above! There are ample ways to enjoy the season as a family without burning holes in your pocket. DIY gifts also make fabulous – and personal – presents for those you love.
  • Limit Drinking. Alcohol is a sedative and depressant, interacts with other drugs or medications and may increase feelings of depression.
  • Reach Out. Make new friends, spend time with supportive people, contact friends or family you may have lost touch with, and attend family gatherings. Setup a playdate with your children’s’ friends and get to know their parents. Having contact with others will limit their feeling of loneliness or despair.
  • Self Love & Care. Don’t forget about yourself. Check in frequently to see how you are feeling and what you may need. Make time for yourself, be gentle on yourself and find ways to stay healthy and grounded (movement, meditation, time alone, etc.).
Although we spend a lot of time with our families and loved ones, focused on our own lives and stress, the holidays are a great opportunity to think bigger. It is the perfect time to reach out to others and offer comfort and support, passing tradition and values onto children, creating a ripple effect in our communities, and eventually, our world.
Here are 3 ways to Pay it Forward and help others that may be suffering:
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  • Open Your Arms (and Doors).  Remember the Single Mom or Dad that you see on the school drop-off and pick-up line, the person that just moved here and may not have much family locally, or the elderly person a few houses down. Do you know someone that has just lost a loved one, gotten divorced or experienced tragedy? Perhaps you see a child, riding his bike all the time, and always alone? There are people all around us in need. Open your arms this holiday season, and invite them in. Have them join you for Dinner. Opening the door to your home to others may seem simple, but this one action can have a tremendous impact on the lives of those suffering from loneliness.
  • Be Kind. Smile. Compliment. Hold the door for someone. Help an elderly person with their bags. Be kind… Your energy is contagious. Be mindful of the energy you’re putting out into the world. As Marvin J. Ashton said, “Leave people better than you found them.” Teach your children the value of kindness… it benefits both the giver and receiver!
  • Volunteer or Donate. This is a great way to teach children about being grateful for all they have (and don’t have), and how easily they can make others feel happy to receive.
The Holidays are just like anything else in life; there are moments of joy, fun, anticipation, celebration, togetherness, stress, depression, loneliness… a beautiful human dichotomy. Be mindful of how you are feeling, and at all times, try to remain present, grateful and kind… with yourself, your family and with others. Reach out and offer yourself wherever you can, without over-burdening. The holiday season is an opportunity to come together; family, friends and perhaps some newcomers. Take the recommended steps to prevent stress and depression, and enjoy a true sense of peace and joy this holiday season.
Camille Lucy is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Certified Reiki & Raindrop Technique Practitioner, Ordained Holistic Minister, Certified Meditation & Yoga Instructor, graphic and web designer, business consultant, and Vice President of a local non-profit that “rehabilitates people through animals.” She is also a writer, a Mother of 3 girls, an artist, a Life-and-Love Junkie, a Self-Expression and Development advocate, and – well, you get the point. She’s a lot of things, just like all of us. Camille is also the author of, “The (Real) Love Experiment: Explore Love, Relationships & The Self.”  Learn more about her and her adventure(s) at