The holidays can bring forth strong emotions of joy and of sadness; deep peace can descend upon us and increased stress may surprise us. The reality is that many, many people fall prey to "the holiday blues." Learning how to cope with and anticipate any challenges from the season's stressors are a great tool to have on hand.
The "holiday blues" can manifest in many ways and are in fact the flip side of all the joy of the season. It's good to be aware of them, because they can sneak up on you: a lingering sadness or longing; specific memories which are charged with emotion; disappointments from plans which go awry; or old conflicts which surface between families and friends. Symptoms to watch for: being so sad that you don't want to get out of bed; reaching too easily for an excess of rich foods, alcohol, or caffeine; rising stress levels; impatience; and anger which seems out of proportion at little annoyances.
Let me suggest a simple acronym to help stay in balance: C.O.P.E.
C: Caring For Yourself. Remember to care for yourself during the holidays. If you have a doctor's appointment, keep it. If you are too tired to do another thing, give yourself permission to rest. Take a bubble bath, or play an extra round of golf. Get enough sleep. It's okay to say "No" (politely, of course!) to those things you just don't have the time (or the desire) to fit in.
O: Organize Your Holiday Activity. re-evaluate your holiday traditions and priorities. Which ones still hold meaning for you? Which have outgrown their usefulness? Which can be adapted for changing circumstances (as during a time of grief)? Ask yourself, do you really enjoy all the holiday baking? How important is it that I get holiday cards out this year? Is there something new I'd like to try?
P: Prepare Your Heart. Set some goals of the heart for yourself. Reflect on the things which give your life meaning. What fills you with gratitude? Read something inspirational. Listen to music. Take some time out for solitude, reflection or prayer: the thoughts of your heart will be great teachers for you.
E: Enter Into the Spirit of the Holidays. Make a donation in a loved one's name. Share a hug. Read a grandchild a story. Help out a neighbor. Volunteer. Make a meal for someone who is lonely or in need. Participate in your treasured holiday traditions.
Don't let the Holiday Blues get the better of you, and have a Happy, Healthy, Holiday Season.