Thursday, December 17, 2015

Red, Green and Blue

Five words of a Christmas song keep going through my mind... "all is cheery and bright," and I wonder, what if for some people all isn't cheery and bright during this holiday season? Because, here's the thing, people have made Christmas into a big month long celebration complete with social gatherings, fattening food and gifts that can break your budget. The high expectations come with a lot of stress and pressure to be happy and engaged in all the activities.
For some people Christmas isn't red and green, it's blue.

But what if instead of red and green, things in your world are blue? No, not really blue, but you have a case of the blues. Or even depression, whether caused by the holidays or not. So while everyone else is having fun hanging out, shopping, and going to movies and parties, you're miserable and just want the season to be over so life can go back to normal. Know what? You're not alone.

If you have true depression, that's a medical condition. It's not you feeling sorry for yourself, and it's not in your mind. It doesn't mean you're not a good Christian or failing to trust God. You need to see a doctor to get help. There's nothing at all wrong with getting help or taking medicine. After all, God gave those doctors the brains to diagnose you and prescribe medicine. 
Depression is very real. It often needs medical treatment.

If you're just having a case of the blues, there are things you can do to make it better.

  • Be realistic about the holidays. You may not have a storybook Christmas. Don't compare your Christmas to anyone else's. The day might not be magical. If your family doesn't get along during the rest of the year, chances are they aren't going to get along at Christmas either. Adding the stress of having too much to do and spending too much money along with feeling like you have to be happy and family situations can get ugly.  So if you're expecting miracles, you might be facing failed expectations. Not that God can't work a miracle in your family, but that takes willing hearts.
  • Don't wear a mask. You might be at a party and all your friends are having a blast. You'd rather be at home watching TV. You're surrounded by people, yet you are lonelier than when you're actually alone. Be real about your feelings--maybe not during the party itself, but later when you have a chance to talk. Your true friends will get it. Make sure you have your support people in place. There's a story in the Bible about a crippled man who wanted to see Jesus. He couldn't get there on his own, so four friends each took a corner of his mat and carried him. Who has your corners? Avoid people and places that get you down. Stay away from negative influences. Ask for help if you need it. You might even want to join a support group. They let you share your feelings and know you aren't alone.
  • Don't sweat the little stuff or let the stuff you can't control get you down. You can't make the weather cooperate with your plans, and you can't control other people's actions or reactions. But you can follow the same routines you always do, and you can take care of yourself. A lack of sleep, exercise and good nutrition will just make things worse. You may not feel like doing anything, but exercise will help reduce stress, so skate, bike, run or go to the gym. The weather has been warm enough this year to be outside more than normal.
  • Grieve your losses. That might include a break up, a fight with a friend, the loss of a pet, the loss of a family member through death or divorce, the loss of a job or anything that was important to you. There is no timeline for grieving, so find a way to deal with the feelings whether it's been a few days or a few years.
  • Some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder that happens around the same time of year. Some people blame it on less sun while others have different explanations. If you find yourself feeling down every winter, you might want to do some research into it to find a solution that works for you.
  • Focus on what's important. You know the Christmas story. The babe in a manger came to save the world and offer eternal life. That's what it's all about. Find a Bible and read the gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are Jesus' story. And his story makes a difference.
  • Plan something for after the holidays. Some people who don't have the holiday blues suffer from post holiday blues. Either way, plan an activity or fun outing for after the season is over. Or set some goals. Learn to swim. Read a series of books. (Look back to the post about the 100 best teen books.) Learn American Sign Language. Join a club.   
Holiday blues and holiday depression are real. If you are suffering, talk to someone. If you're not, be sensitive to the feelings of those around you who might be. Find your own way to make this season cheery and bright.

What things give you joy during the holidays? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Learn more:
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Preventing Holiday Depression
Myths and Facts About Depression
Teenage Depression

1 comment:

  1. Christmas can be lonely if you break up or something.