If you are Rocking around the Christmas Tree and having a Holly Jolly Christmas then please….carry on…this post is not for you!
This one goes out to those who, when the holidays roll around, struggle with the blues.
Maybe the holidays bring back painful memories of an event that, by a cruel twist of fate, happened during “the most wonderful time of the year,” or maybe you just cycle in and out of funks and the added pressures and demands of the season trigger an episode that makes it difficult to fully enjoy the festivities.
I’ve been there and I’d like to walk alongside you.
I both love Christmas and the holiday season AND I struggle through Christmas and the holiday season. I battle seasonal depression and it always creeps in this time of the year. It rolls in just before Halloween and lingers throughout the end of the year. Some years are milder than others. Every year, I hope and pray that I will escape it but for the past 10 years the pattern has persisted.
In years gone by, I have worn myself out fighting it but now I’ve learned to live with it, never giving up hope that one year, it will disappear forever.
In the meantime I have a few coping mechanisms that help to keep the blues at bay and allow me to resist the gravitational pull that makes me want to stay in bed with the covers pulled over my head. Maybe they will help you too.
Be gentle with yourself.
Unfortunately, I can’t control when the dark clouds descend but I can control how I treat myself. I have stopped beating myself up for not being able to “snap out of it.” I allow myself to move a little slower if need be and cut back on activities that sap my precious and limited energy. I’ve learned to let those close to me know that I’m struggling when I need to. It makes it easier to not have to pretend. Pretending is exhausting.
Schedule something for yourself.
The season can easily get filled up with things you have to do; make sure you make time for some things that you love to do. This year I scheduled a “Tea with Santa” at one of my favorite places, with my sisters, nieces and granddaughter. Part of the experience is looking forward to it! Maybe it’s just a walk on the beach to watch the sunset but do something that brings you joy. *Moms – this is especially important for us since we are typically making sure that everyone else is taken care of!
Get outside of yourself.
This is a game changer. There are plenty of opportunities to give this time of year. In my struggles over the years I’ve learned the principle of healing through giving.
Isaiah 58:10-11 says:
…if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Earlier in the chapter it says that if we clothe the naked and don’t turn away from those who need us — THEN our healing will quickly appear. Nothing helps us rise above our own problems or issues like serving those less fortunate then ourselves. And it doesn’t have to be monetary. Give of your time by serving and I promise you, it will lift your spirits.
Next Tuesday, I’ll be serving at Metropolitan Ministries in their Holiday Tent with a group of ladies from For the Girls International. (You can join us if you’d like – sign up ends today – click HERE and choose Dec 20th!) Let your passion lead you to someone in need. God set it up so that when we give, we also receive! I love that! Look for opportunities to serve.
One of my all time favorite verses is one my Dad wrote in my Bible when I was baptized at 14 years old. This is the message version of Matthew 5:16:
You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.
Even if you feel like your flame is merely a flicker, I assure you it can still brighten someone’s day and bring color to their world.
The other day I was feeling a little low, wandering through the mall by myself and I determined that I would try to be extra kind to the salespeople as the mall was packed with impatient shoppers some of whom were being less than kind! After waiting an inordinate amount of time to be served, the saleswoman greeted me apologetically and appeared to be resigned to receive backlash from me for the wait. I told her I was not in a rush and it was no problem. She thanked me profusely for my patience and began to share how angry people had been that day and how she had been mistreated. She went on to tell me that she had lost her husband, her mother and her sister all this past year and that she couldn’t understand why people had to be so rude when life was so short and unpredictable. She wondered aloud why people could not find it in their hearts to be kind. We had a nice little chat and I went on my way. My spirits were lifted just knowing that I had made a tiny difference in her day.
Allow your sensitivity to pick up on the sensitivity of others. There are a whole lot of people struggling this time of year. You are not alone. Depression can feel so isolating. So, I’ll say it again…you are not alone!
Remember The Reason for the Season
I know, I know, that’s a totally overused expression from the 80’s but focusing on the Christmas story helps keep things in perspective and makes all the hoopla fade into the background. For me, music helps me focus. Some of the beautiful Christmas Carols are life-giving if you listen closely.
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Hold onto HOPE. Allow your soul to feel its worth. Weeping endures for the night but JOY comes in the morning. Your funk or blues or depression or whatever you want to call it, will eventually pass. I pray for those who struggle, so if that is you, know that you are being covered. Feel free to drop a comment with any additional tips or share your coping skills. I’d love to hear from you!
Wishing you JOY and PEACE,