The Holidays are Approaching, and They Aren't Always Merry

Anxiety, Depression, and Grief & Loss

The holidays are approaching, and it’s supposed to be the happiest time of the year. There are family gatherings, office parties, presents, music…...the list goes on. It can be overwhelming, and especially so for those suffering from anxiety, depression, or the loss of a loved one.

The expectation of putting on a happy face when you don’t feel like it can be exhausting. On a daily basis, people who have gone through a loss or are feeling depressed find it hard to attend parties or interact socially. The holidays add to the complexity of our feelings and the anxiety level rises.

You may feel pressured to celebrate, invited to participate in and attend gatherings you do not feel like attending. You may feel your co-workers or friends do not understand that you are not ready to celebrate and are urging you to join in.  Anxiety, depression, and sadness over the loss of a loved one is felt more deeply at this time of year.

What can we do to help ourselves through this season? The first thing to do is give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling. Let the feelings come and let the feelings move on out. Denying them or pretending everything is fine will only delay the feelings, and they will catch up with you. It is ok to feel sad, you are sad, it is ok to feel anxious, it’s an anxious time of year. By acknowledging those feelings, we can take deep breaths and it will help us to feel less sad and less anxious.

The second thing to do is limit your gatherings to a few that you really would like to attend with people you want to spend time with. You do not have to attend each party you’re invited to or each gathering at a neighbor’s house. Perhaps it would be better to invite a few friends and family members over to your place. This way you are surrounded by the people you care about; you are in control and feel more comfortable and secure at home.

The last thing I would like to suggest is to take this season as one for reflection. I know from a personal perspective that I think a lot about the people in my life past and present and what they mean to me. I think about the lessons learned and teachings from my parents.

It is a time of renewal and hope. For those who are religious or spiritual, take the time to reflect on readings and think about the goodness of life. For those who are not religious, it is still a time for renewed strength and promise of a new day. Feeling gratitude is an excellent way to say thank you to your friends and family who have supported you throughout your life or during your sorrow.

Feeling gratitude is not as hard as you may think. When you start to feel sad or have negative feelings, think of the tiny things you are grateful for at that moment. It could be that first cup of coffee in the morning or taking your dog for a walk. Simply saying thank you to the universe for another day may lift your spirits each time you do it.