I absolutely love Christmas. Everything thing about it can brighten my mood most of the time. However, in the fall of 2003, I lost my best friend in Operation Iraqi Freedom a little less than two weeks before Thanksgiving. His death threw my emotions and life into a downward spiral that lasted through the holidays that year.
Ever since then, the holiday season has been a little less bright for me, but I do my best to stay positive and happy.
For many people, an ugly mindset comes along with the holidays. Not one that involves anger or confrontation, but sadness, depression, and loneliness instead. The holidays can be hard for a lot of people for a multitude of reasons, and it can be difficult to get away from negativity and sadness, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
The Clutches of Sadness
December is the toughest month of the year. Others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, October, August, and February. — Mark Twain.
I think Mark Twain is right. Every month of the year can be tough. For some people, though, the stretch of winter months that involve holidays can be the toughest.
There’s a myth that’s been making the rounds year after year after year, and it claims that there’s a sharp rise in suicides between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whether this is true or not, well, everyone has their own opinions.
However, suicidal ideation aside–after all, this post is about positivity–while holiday depression is a very real issue for many people, there are a number of ways to help keep the blues away.
Staying Positive When Things Are Hard
Just about anyone will tell you that it’s important to live in the moment. Sure, it’s important. But when you’re feeling down, it can seem impossible to do so. There are some great suggestions for how to begin, and I’d like to talk about them a bit.
- Stay focused on what’s happening now. Even if your life feels like it’s completely wrong or broken, there’s always one thing that is going right. It can be the smallest thing, such as getting out of bed every day, or focusing enough to read a few chapters of your favorite book. These things, no matter how small they are, are little victories. Things are happening. Focus on those things, and not the negative, bad things. When you look for the good things, you’ll see them. Start looking now.
- Always look at the bigger picture. When you’re feeling down, happy people can be one of the most aggravating and annoying things you’ll experience. Yes, your year may be a tough one, but you need to remember that there will come a time when you’ll be one of those happy people. Look at the bigger picture, focus on the good things about it (even if they’re smaller things), and stay positive by remembering that you’ll find happiness again.
- Learn to take care of yourself. Be aware of your feelings, and understand when you’re stressed or feeling sad. Eat healthy and limit your consumption of sugars, caffeine, and alcohol. Undertake something you enjoy, whether it’s going to for a simple walk or sitting down with a good book. “You time” is incredibly important, especially around the holidays.
- Reach out and interact with others. For many people, this is one of the hardest things to do. When you’re feeling down or depressed, the last thing you want to do is interact with other people. However, doing so is a great way to improve your overall mood. Take a chance. Let others cheer you up and help you out. Maybe even try getting involved in some fun Christmas games.
- Always remember that you’re not alone. Because the holiday season is typically a time for family, perhaps one of the most important things you can do is remember that you’re not alone. Whether you remember that others are suffering, or you remember that your family or friends can be there for you, focus on the positive.
- Sometimes you have to say no. Part of taking care of yourself is saying no. This is hard, especially if you’re always trying to please everyone. Perhaps the biggest part of de-stressing is the ability to take care of yourself and engage in “me time.” Sometimes, to do so, you have to say no to a dinner party or no to something simple like borrowing someone money or going to a parade. Your health matters. Take care of it.
The holidays don’t have to be dark and lonely. It can be difficult to stay positive, but the suggestions above can definitely help. Stay positive and keep looking forward. There’s always a silver lining, even in this difficult time of year. If you keep looking for it, you’ll inevitably find it, just like I did.
How do you overcome holiday negativity and the blues? Please share with us! Leave a comment below.