10 Holiday Depression Busters: Making Yourself OK

As the holidays gather momentum, it can seem that everyone is having a holly jolly time but if “everyone” is not the category you’re currently in, know that you are not alone.

This article is personal – as in been there and still doing that – and I’m hoping that some ideas that have aided me in the past few weeks, might help those of you out there feeling blue.

A big moment came for me back in November when I realized that manufactured expectation was perhaps the biggest factor in increasing holiday stress and melancholy. We can credit commercials and social media with manufacturing the expectation or vision of our holidays but when that expectation proves unattainable, it could be time to haul it right out of the mall and off of the Christmas card ads and take it the heck back. Specifically speaking, I realized that it is looking like I will spend the holiday without my four kids due to work/financial obligations and this fact could appear sad at first glance, however, sad in this case – I came to realize – is in the eye of the beholder.

The bigger picture, when examined closely, had me beholding kids that are all on thrilling journeys, following the things in life that they are passionate about and adventuring all over the world. This is cause for celebration not grief and I remind myself of this any time I start to feel heartache.

I am acutely aware that there are plenty of people navigating supreme suffering. People out there walking through profound loss of loved ones, financial instability, and/or job stress as well as uncertainty about the future. A number of these people have, in recent times, rocked my being with their ability to reframe their circumstances and find a new way to shape their expectations. A single, elderly man who has no family (both children are dead as well as his wife) a week ago, admired my humble Christmas tree and warmly remarked “your decorations are beautiful and I think it’s going to be a beautiful holiday this year”. This man’s statement stilled me to my core and encouraged me to examine my previous holiday expectation.

After some pondering, I discovered a new uplifting idea. What if I removed the words exciting, busy, hectic, gifts, parties and shopping from my holiday and replaced them with the elderly man’s one word? The word beautiful. And then I gave some thought to new definitions of holiday beauty, definitions beyond kids gathered around the tree, Santa, and revelry. I exhaled into this idea of beauty and just let it be and a different picture began to form. A quiet image of beauty outdoors took hold and a dream to snowshoe unfolded.

At this time, I think my vision can take a seat and yours should come to the podium. If you remove familiar/predictable holiday expectations from your mind, what opening is possible? Could it be a day that involves a simple activity that brings you joy? Would it be possible to connect to people who also are searching for their vision? Maybe a unique observance of your holiday is waiting for you to create it and all that is needed is the first step.

If a first step is well…the first step, please feel free to take the following suggestions and start a plan that is right for you. Use the ideas as a template or fuel for your creativity. And if you hear a misfit has gone missing in the wilderness on Christmas, please follow the snowshoe tracks and bring coffee.

10 HOLIDAY DEPRESSION BUSTERS

1) HUMOR – If you end up flying solo, I cannot stress enough my belief that humor can be your best friend and I am speaking from direct experience. For the past few months I have watched tons of stand-up comedy on Netflix and it has buoyed my spirit when times were tough. Free movies are available at the library and I also have relied heavily on hilarious books.

2) POTLUCK – Host a misfit Christmas (finances are also a misfit? POTLUCK!)

3) HIKE – Go hiking and if you don’t want to be alone, put out a call on social media.

4) MOVIE – Gather some buddies for a movie either at a theater or have everyone bring snacks and watch at home.

5) READ – Read a great book! If you like short stories/essays, I recently released THE THINGS I CANNOT DO, a Kindle collection of humorous/sentimental essays that are free for Kindle Unlimited and $4.99 for reg. Kindle.

6) BATHE – Yes, take a hot bath and I recommend Aura Cacia lavender oil and Tazo tea to sip while you soak.

7) CONNECT – Connect with your neighbors! Make fliers, and put them up for a neighborhood wine or coffee walk. We did this several times and it was a hit, with entire families and doggies joining in and bringing their own drinks on the walk-about.

8) CREATE – Go to the craft store and grab some art supplies and spend some time getting in touch with your inner artist. Vision boards are easy and fun (cut out dreamy ideas from magazines and glue on foam core poster board in collage form) and if you make it more reasonable, shelving the high-end, fantasy wishes like cars and clothes, and instead focus on more easily attainable ideas, the good juju will flow.

9) GIVE – Now this will sound a little extreme but here you go, grab inexpensive fun snacks and just walk around areas where people are working and hand them out while shouting a joyful personal greeting. Ideas for snacks could be clementine oranges, apples, candy canes with sealed teabags tied on.

10) ACKNOWLEDGE – This goes with the idea above. If you feel lonely or down, it can help to trick your emotions by handing out positive energy (I have done this before and it worked). Just walk up to the people at the market or anywhere else open on holidays and thank the employees.  Don’t let finances hold you back if they are scarce, your words are a gift. It is perfectly lovely to walk into a hospital/urgent care/grocery store/quick mart/ and just say “Hey, thank you so much for being here today. Just wanted you to know I am grateful”. Also wave and smile at everyone!

And that brings me to this…thank you. 2014 was greatly enhanced and I often was hugely lifted up by readers of On A Dime and their stories. So I would add (courtesy of an On A Dime adventurer named Mike B.) that the best thing you can do this holiday and coming year is to connect with people that support and partner with you in appreciating, continuing, and embarking on the journey.

**Have your own ideas/personal holiday beautiful experience? Feel free to share here or on our Facebook page.

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