A Friendly Guide to Overcoming Loss and Embracing Joy
Many people view the holidays as a time of joy, love, and togetherness. However, that’s not always the case. For many, this time of year brings feelings of sadness, loneliness, and stress, otherwise known as the “Holiday Blues”. During this time, those feelings can be intense for those who have suffered a significant loss.
Understanding the Holiday Blues
While this term holds many different meanings, you can recognize it by the feelings of sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and unease that creep in during the holiday season. As a Black woman over 50, you may be going through empty the nest syndrome, have lost close friends over the years, are missing all the parties of yesteryear, and feeling the pressures of the economy and other world events. While it’s not uncommon for people to confuse the holiday blues with clinical depression, it is important to distinguish the two. Although, they share common symptoms, but the holiday blues are temporary and usually begin to drift away after the holiday season.
Why Do We Feel the Holiday Blues?
There are several reasons why the holiday blues show up. One major factor is the high expectations most people place on this time of year. We’re often expected to be happy and joyful, which can make any feelings of sadness or loneliness even harder to deal with. Loss and grief can also play a significant role. If you’ve lost a loved one, the holidays can trigger powerful memories and emotions that can take you back to ground zero.
Believe it or not, seasonal changes can also add to those feelings of sadness. Shorter days and colder weather can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.
Strategies to Overcome the Holiday Blues
It’s important to validate your feelings. Know that it’s okay to feel sad or lonely during the holidays. These feelings are normal. Acknowledging them is a crucial first step in dealing with them. One effective strategy is to maintain a good self-care routine. Eating healthy, regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and taking time to relax can help manage your stress. You can also look to your loved ones for support or get help from a professional. Why? Because sharing your feelings with others can provide the comfort and understanding you need. The goal is to make a transition with new traditions and joyful activities. Take a vacation, visit an old friend, volunteer at a local toy drive, or something else. Here are additional suggestions:
Maintaining Self-Care Routines
Maintaining self-care routines can significantly help manage the Holiday Blues. Here are a few ways to incorporate self-care during the holiday season:
- In most cases, the holiday season is often associated with indulgence, which can lead to feelings of guilt or discomfort. At the minimum, try to maintain a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Of course, you can have some holiday treats but use moderation.
- Adding some form of exercise into your daily routine is important. Even a short walk can have significant benefits because physical activity releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel happier and more relaxed.
- Lack of sleep can enhance feelings of stress and anxiety. Try to stick to regular sleep patterns and create a restful environment for sleeping.
Relaxation and Mindfulness
- Activities such as reading, listening to music, taking a bath, or practicing mindfulness exercises can help reduce stress. Mindfulness can help you stay focused on the present and reduce negative thought patterns.
Seeking Support from Loved Ones or Professionals
If you’re finding it hard to manage the holiday blues, seeking support from others can be beneficial. Here are a few suggestions:
- Reach Out to Loved Ones: Spend time with family and friends who understand what you’re going through. Sometimes, just talking about how you’re feeling can give you relief. Don’t hesitate to communicate your needs to your loved ones.
- Join Support Groups: There are many local or online groups where people share their experiences and coping strategies for dealing with loss and grief during the holidays. Being part of such a community can provide comfort and understanding.
- Seek Professional Help: If your feelings of sadness persist or get worse, reach out to a mental health professional. Therapists and counselors are trained to help you navigate your feelings and provide strategies for managing stress and sadness. If you’re already seeing a therapist, consider scheduling extra sessions during the holiday season.
Remember, seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather an act of self-care. You don’t have to navigate the holiday blues alone; support is there if you need it and it’s okay to get it.
Even if you’re going through the holiday blues, it’s just as important to allow yourself to feel joy. Positive thoughts can change your mindset and help you focus on the good things going on in your life. Take part in activities that make you smile and feel content, this could be reading a book, learning a new dance, gardening, or enjoying a treat or beverage you like. Creating new, meaningful traditions can alsohelp. These little steps can promote new, positive memories with a fresh perspective.
Again, the holiday blues are quite common for those who’ve had to endure a loss. Once you get into the habit of validating your feelings, maintaining a self-care routine, getting support when you need it, and finding ways to embrace joy, things may not be so dreary. Everyone deserves to be happy and at peace during the holidays, so dare to be different!
- The holiday blues are common.
- They are temporary feelings that may show up as sadness, anxiety, unease, or loneliness during the holidays.
- Self-awareness is important.
- Take time to recognize and validate your feelings. It’s perfectly fine to not feel happy or joyful all the time, even during the holidays.
- Practice and maintain self-care.
- Eat healthy foods, get some exercise, don’t slack on sleep, and find ways to relax can help you navigate this difficult time.
- Embrace joy.
- Find activities that make you happy and try to focus on the positive parts of your life. Create new traditions that can help you manage with grace and bring a new perspective to your life.
- Seek help.
- It’s perfectly okay to need help. If your feelings of sadness continue or get worse, the best line of defense is through working with a professional.