What if, for you, there is no Merry in Christmas? That seems to be an absolutely ridiculous thought in this season of thanksgiving and peace on earth, good will to men. Songs like “Joy to the World”, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” are playing over the sound systems in multiple stores and are being sung by people, young and old, with big smiles on their faces. Everyone is happy and loved during the holidays. They’re all sharing special times and making wonderful memories with their families and friends. Are they? Are you sure?
Holiday Depression and Stress:
You’re right to question my statement about “no Merry in Christmas”. Many people are joyous during the holidays and proclaim, “It’s my favorite time of the year!” However, for some individuals, it’s a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety. They wonder why everyone else seems to be happy and worry that, somehow, they are depressed and alone because they are unworthy. As a result, fear blocks the ability to evaluate what may be creating the depression and stress.
Causes of Holiday Depression and Stress:
We humans are each one of a kind. Our emotional responses reflect who we are, and sadness is a truly personal and unique feeling. What makes me sad may not affect you at all. Some typical triggers for holiday sadness are:
- Unrealistic expectations
- Financial stress
- Inability to be with one’s family and friends
Tools for Coping with Holiday Depression and Stress:
- Live and enjoy the present
- Be realistic about what you can and cannot do
- Make a list and prioritize the important activities
- Limit your drinking since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression
- Reach out and make new friends
- Spend time with supportive and caring people
- Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over
- Give yourself permission to make time for yourself
Well, we’ve examined the “No Merry” vs. the “Merry” in Christmas and found some interesting data on the cause of holiday depression and stress and on tools to cope with them. I learned what I, as a person experiencing the holiday blues, can do to recognize and to overcome this sadness. Hmmm, helpful but incomplete.
The power of love:
I Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (NKJ) What if I include the power of love? What if I include the power of me, as a person experiencing the wonder and joy of the holiday season, and choose to reach out in love to each and every person I encounter? After all, I don’t know who’s sad and who’s not. People often hide their struggles; so I have no way of knowing for sure whether or not they need help.
I’ll need a simple plan, and I think I know exactly what to do. Smile at everyone. Say a kind word to everyone. Now, that’s an idea that could change not just the season, but the world… especially if it’s contagious.