Surviving the Holiday Blues

We know it’s coming every year, yet it can hit us like a ton of bricks, the holidays. That time of year when everyone is talking about peace on earth and embracing loved ones, the frenzied shopping for the perfect gifts and never-ending parties. Yet for many of us, it is a time of deep unrest and pervasive sadness. Some of us know exactly where the sadness originates yet for others it’s just a sense of unease as if something important is missing. The reasons are as different as each person is different.

If you’re one of those experiencing sadness, what are your reasons (assuming you can put your finger on it)? For me it is a lost dream of the perfect holiday, the kind I remember as a kid. Both of my parents have passed and I don’t have children of my own, so that experience is gone, never to be re-created. But then, if I think about it more deeply I realize that the perfect holiday I imagine never really happened to begin with. Holidays were times when parents were tired, tense, and short-tempered. When arguments could easily arise. When the feelings of happiness may have been faked a little bit, hiding our own parents’ feelings of sadness. So the dream I had of the perfect Christmas is unattainable. Yet, even so, I still long for that dream. I chase it every year and am left with a little sadness each holiday season.

I can’t deny the feelings, so what can I do? There are a couple of spiritual practices that help me.

  • The first one is to admit to the sadness, acknowledge it and feel it.
  • Next, good self-care is really important. I don’t overload myself with to-dos. I eat healthily and get plenty of rest. I only do the holiday events that bring me joy, and that fills my heart and soul.
  • Finally, I add a spiritual practice that speaks to me for the time being. Sometimes meditation fits the bill. It slows down my mind and lets my soul rest from the cloying negative thoughts.
  • My favorite practice is to journal. I write down the negative thoughts and get them out of my system in a healthy way that won’t bring anyone else down. Usually, the negative thoughts lead me to think of all the things I have to be grateful for and turn my spirit around.

What do you do to get through the sad parts of the holiday? I’d love to hear ideas from you to help me and others pull out of a negative spiral. Here’s hoping we all find something to celebrate this holiday season.

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