We think about, we dream about and often we worry about what’s going to happen during the holiday season! Sometimes, this is good, sometimes it’s bad.
You have to admit; we tend to get really emotionally charged for any holiday or vacation time of the year. After all, a holiday and time off or time spent with family and friends, is something to look forward to. It’s something we deserve after working so many long hard months at the same job, day in, day out.
A lot of us spend weeks and sometimes months getting ready for Christmas, other religious holidays and New Years, only to have it “be over with before you know it” and abruptly disappear. With so much anticipation and “hype” built into the season, it’s no small wonder about 25% of us will suffer such an after the holiday letdown, that we’ll become depressed and anxious within a few days or even a week later.
Wouldn’t it be great just to avoid post holiday stress and depression altogether? I heard a big “yes”!
In order to do so, most specialists advise you become “pro-active” in avoiding excessive sad emotions and the stress of the season . So, please let me share a few suggestions to help you deal with post holiday blues:
· When you first feel the blues coming on, sit quietly for 20 to 30 minutes and think of all the good things that happened during the season. Try to think of all those warm and fuzzy things that made you feel so good about yourself and the world in general. Write down a next years resolution list to help make sure those good things happen again.
· Remember all the things you did receive, the blessings you have and don’t dwell on what you didn’t receive or what you don’t have.
· Start next year’s gift list now. That will allow you to buy a few after Christmas bargains and concentrate on “hard to buy for” family and friends.
· Make a “must call list” and personally phone each person who gave you a gift or sent a card. Thank them for the present or card and offer to help in some special way. You may renew old friendships long forgotten!
· Bake an “after New Year’s” cake or buy a special “It’s winter” food and give it to friends or family as a treat, sort of like the Kings cake at Mardi Gras. My Uncle Frank always said, “Breaking bread together is the heart of true fellowship”.
· Try to set up a “help the needy” winter fund and help those very same less fortunate families in January and February you helped during Christmas. Being needy is not limited to Christmas, yet that’s when we tend to think about helping others the most. In addition, a lot of needy families really need help in January and February. Most of us started small in our efforts and built them up over the last twenty years. Doing this gives us a sense of “the reason to be here” and a lot of satisfaction.
· “Re-gift a present” you received to a needy person. It’s ok to give away presents you do not need. I don’t think it’s ok to sell them, but giving them to someone who needs them more than you or can use them in January seems an ok thing to do.
· Send out Happy New Year or “Have a great winter” cards to the very same persons you sent Christmas cards. Christmas cards tend to get lost in the “shuffle” and a lot of times your friends didn’t even notice the card or paid it little attention. You can bet they’ll notice and appreciate it if they get a “Happy Winter” card from you in the second week of January!
· Design your own “hope it snows” card. Start a birthday card list of friends and relatives and go ahead and prepare your cards for the next three months. Have them ready to mail, so friends and relatives can put them on the fridge when it “lookslikeit’sgoingtosnow”.
· Call an old friend. Pick one you haven’t spoken to in a long time and get acquainted again. Once you start talking, you’ll find you still have a lot more in common than you think. You can bet your heart will warm as you share memories.
· Start having family meetings twice a month to discuss the good and the bad and everything that’s going on. Sharing opinions, frustrations, fears and good feelings will help take some of the stress of life off of all of you.
· Organize a contest at work for the best or worst piece of clothing received at Christmas and if they’re brave enough to wear it to work, have a contest.
· Have a “hat party”. Everyone has to wear a hat to attend. Have a best hat and craziest hat award. Everyone will have more fun than you can imagine.
· Start planning your next vacation and send for all the information you need to plan and organize the trip. It pays to plan even weekend “get a ways”, as that gives you more control over the time you will spend and helps make the trip much more enjoyable.
· Rededicate you life or your family at church or to your religion. Nothing makes us feel better than to have all those burdens lifted off of our shoulders. All of us need the security of “knowing what will happen” as our physical life ends. Set goals for “things to help with at church” you and your family are able to do, want to do, and can do for the year.
· Teach yourself a new way to pray. It doesn’t matter how old you are, most persons were never taught how to pray. Children are usually just taught “easy to recite prayers” and not how to really pray form the heart. Most of us forget that prayer can be done at any time and for any reason. So, offer a prayer in thanks for all the good things you received and those who gave them.
· Have a Sunday school class party for “backsliders”. Invite all of your class, including those who have missed more than a few Sundays. Schedule this at a convenient time during the week, so everyone can come or at least drop-in. You may also wish to invite prospective new members.
These are suggestions on avoiding the holiday blues I’ve received from patients and family over the years, as well as a few “I thought up on my very own”. You should feel free to change them to suit your family’s needs and please be sure to share them with others. And yes, I’m sure you can think of many others, now that I’ve gotten you started. Please share them with me!
Have a great year!
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Frank Barnhill, M.D.
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Frank Barnhill is a board certified family physician practicing in upstate South Carolina with an interest in both behavioral medicine and well medicine.