Holidays often trigger depression, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts
Holidays are not always “the most wonderful time of the year.” For many people they are a reminder of losses, loved ones who are not here for the holiday.
A lot of people are also alone and every Christmas commercial reminds them that they have nobody to be with. Depression and suicide attempts increase during the last month of the year.
Holidays are also stressful because everywhere you turn there is pressure to give a gift to someone. Buy, buy, buy. For many of us, income is more limited than ever.
Who can afford to buy a gift for everyone they care about in the same month? And if you give a gift to this one and not that one, you have GUILT. So the temptation is to whip out that plastic card and go full tilt in the stores so you can feel relieved you got “something for everyone.” And in the new year you get the stress of having to pay for all that good cheer!
And then come commercials to suggest that we should give gifts to those outside the family circle: the mailman, the UPS delivery person, the Amazon driver, the bus driver (if you use mass transit) and that goes on and on.
Recognize that you are being MANIPULATED. That is the goal of advertising: the make you want something you don’t have. If you don’t cut this off, you will be overwhelmed with guilt, stress, and frustration. That is NOT what holidays are supposed to be about!
How can you fight the holiday blues?
Take a good look at your budget and what you can afford. Don’t let the advertisers guilt you into overspending.
Think about the ones you love. What do they NEED? They don’t need the things you could buy. They need YOU. Your time, your attention, your listening ear.
So think about how you can give them that kind of gift. Plan a family gathering to bake cookies, or watch a holiday movie, or play some board games. Make the holiday about BEING together and that can be a true gift.
For those who are alone (or feel alone) think about how you might bless someone else. One of my friends buys a couple of boxes of Christmas cards for strangers. She writes a little message of hope and encouragement, and seals the card in an envelope.
Those cards she carries with her as she goes on errands. When she sees someone who looks sad or stressed, she whips out a card and gives it to them with a smile, and goes on her way.
Another friend volunteers to help serve Christmas dinner at a local homeless shelter. Doing something thoughtful for someone else is a great way to lift the cloud of depression.