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Despair or Delight During the Holidays
There are many holidays throughout the year that include family, cheer, goodwill and celebrations. But for many, it can be a time of increased despair, loneliness and pain. While the happy become happier, many of us in the mental health profession see the sad becoming sadder.
What is it about these times of the year that can cause people to become sad when surrounded by the joy of the celebration? Holidays represent for most people a time when families and friends get together, share a good meal or give/receive presents. It can also be a time of resolutions and new beginnings.
For some, the loss of a family member or the break up of a relationship can heighten one's feelings of loss and sadness during the holidays. It can become even more devastating for a person if a new relationship has not been formed or if a person has not sufficiently healed from their loss. Family traditions also add to this sadness as one longs for the comfort and nostalgia of the past.
To help yourself during this time of the year there are a few things that can turn your despair into delight. Plan ahead. As hard as that might be when you are feeling down, it will be important to be sure you have some type of human connection planned on certain “sad provoking” days. If you usually went to a relative's house for a celebration, maybe this is the year to invite a few friends or family to your house instead.
Surround yourself with people who love and care about you. This is very important and could even include neighbors and new friends. Sometimes other people are lonely during the holidays and an invitation would be so very welcome and appreciated.
Start a new tradition! Family traditions may be the key to help a person heal during this time. Traditions look different for many families. It could be that you had champagne at midnight on Christmas Eve or mom made special holiday cookies or Uncle Jack wore a funny holiday sweater. Choose a special recipe to make every year, use special china to set your table or write a thankful speech to say before your holiday meal. You could even use a family recipe or family heirloom that was passed down from a great aunt or parent. This memory may provide you with great comfort and can make you feel you are celebrating and honoring their memory.
When you surround yourself with love, make plans with others and begin to take control by creating new traditions - you will feel empowered and realize that you are moving forward. You are a loving, beautiful person who can and should enjoy life. It is normal to have moments when you feel sad or lonely and this is part of the healing process but for some, the feeling of sadness may be more intense, stay for longer periods of time and interfere with daily life. When this occurs, it is recommended that you reach out for the support of a professional therapist.
So as the holidays approach plan new ways to connect with others, surround yourself with people who love you and begin to think of new traditions. You have the power to create magical moments so that you can turn your despair to delight!
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Content copyright © 2013 by Dr. Ilyssa Hershey. All rights reserved.
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