All Aboard! Welcome back to the Train, The LifeTrain. As you board today I do the usual, hand you a business card to start your ride. It reads:
Love is the ocean which accepts all manner of rivers without questioning their origin.
I want to re-introduce you to one of my many MIND Doctor friends, Dr. Emily Hath PhD. Dr. E as I affectionately call her, and I know that there are people that tend to be more prone to the holiday blues. People who have lost a loved one may be flooded with unresolved grief and painful memories of a once joyful time of year. For people with strained relationships with family members, this time of year can be filled with stress and conflict. Some people are not able to join their families for the holidays, which can bring on feelings of guilt and loneliness. And for people and families that are struggling financially, stretching the wallet or debt even more can trigger feelings of shame and depression.
For many people, the next 6 weeks are often filled with anything but holiday cheer.
So, each year the good Doc and I sit down over a cup of tea and discuss this very issue. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious during the upcoming holidays, make the time to check in with yourself. Putting on a happy face to “get through the holidays” isn’t doing anyone any favors, especially not for you. If this time of year is usually more stressful than festive, figure out what you need to do to alleviate that stress and make some changes. Over the next few Weeks Dr. Hath and I will be here to offer tips so hop bak aboard and listen to what we discuss. Listen in as we start our initial discussions about dealing with the holidays.
Chuckie: Dr E!
Dr.E: My main man, Chuckie the conductor!
Chuckie: You knows I loves me some Dr.E!
DrE: And you knows I loves me some Chuckie!
Chuckie: Dr.E A lot of people get anxious or sad around the holidays. For some people, the idea of getting together with family is stressful. I actually talked with a very dear friend last week who lamented about that very same thing. Having to put on a game face for the holidays. For others, having no family to share the holidays with is stressful. And this year in particular, many people have lost their jobs and their homes! So, Doc what can we offer to our ridership that may help restore true holiday cheer?
Dr.E: Well Chuckie, unfortunately we just might not be able to cheer up anyone who has lost so much, but if some of our riders have the garden variety seasonal blues, here are 5 ideas I think we should offer up:
If you are feeling sorry for yourself because everyone has a significant other and you don’t, get out your phone and call or text some old high school friends — people you are already in touch with through Facebook or long-lost friends — just to say hello and wish them happy holidays. They will feel great that you thought about them during this season and you, in turn, will feel appreciated and connected.
You can use use the holidays as an excuse to contact a lost love, too. Have you always thought about contacting a “special someone,” but were afraid to? Send a simple e-card, and maybe add, “Thinking of you this holiday season and wondering how you are doing. I’d enjoy hearing from you when you get a moment.” If your old flame responds with an email, there you go! If you get no response, it was only a generic e-card so you won’t feel foolish about the contact.
Some people won’t respond because they are married, not because they aren’t interested in you, so don’t assume! And your lost love may surprise you and write later. But never do this if you are married; you have no idea how devastating these reconnections can be for you, a lost love, and your families!
Attending a holiday party? Worried about greeting guests you haven’t seen in a long time? Break the ice before you get together. Send some cute e-cards (or even snail mail cards, which can be more impressive to some recipients): “Looking forward to seeing you again!” That will make them feel special, so by the time they arrive, it will feel like you were together just yesterday.
This is a good time to heal an old rift. Is there someone you were once close to (a former friend, ex-spouse, coworker, estranged relative)? The holiday season is a great time to heal old wounds. Send some cookies or a small
box of candy — aren’t Internet gift sites convenient? — with a simply note that says, “It’s been a long time. Let’s put the past behind us. Happy holidays.”
A sure way to feel better is to stop thinking about yourself and go out and do some volunteer work. Right now. Help your elder neighbor with the yard work, serve meals at your local food shelter, go to a park and feed the ducks. Leaving your own concerns and thinking of others is a real day brightener. We will delve deeper on a more clinical level but for now think about giving to get through the holidays.
Do you see the pattern here my man?: Reach out to people!
DrE: Merry Christmas Chuckie and same to the passengers on this Train!