Traditionally, the holiday time represents fun, festivities, and family togetherness. This is the time when we find decorative lights hanging from lamp posts and trees, the sounds of "Deck The Halls" reverberating through the shopping malls, and the extra unwanted pounds on our stomachs and hips. Yet, for many it's a time for suicide, depression and isolation. They are suffering from the "Holiday Blues."
This period usually begins at Halloween and proceeds through New Years. The typical family shops, plans, and prepares for the festivities. It's a time when most people reflect over the past months and sometimes years. For people who were recently divorced, widowed, or experienced a loss/change, this can be a very difficult time. Since the holiday period declares itself on TV, radio, newspapers, etc., it is difficult to avoid. The "unconnected" person is thrown into a passage of events, which can accentuate their loneliness or create a stigma for being alone. Unfortunately, many are forced into believing that not being with other people during these times sentences you to a life of misery.
So, what can you do to beat the holiday blues?
First, it is important to understand that just because you're alone doesn't mean something is "wrong" with you, or that loneliness has to be suffered. It is a shame, that in our society, solitude is regarded as a symptom of inadequacy or even of indifference. Being alone is no more a function of weakness as is being surrounded by people a sign of confidence and popularity. Furthermore, loneliness is only a state of mind resulting from negative thinking. And it can be eliminated by those who learn how to control their thoughts.
Learning to reframe one's thoughts is a relatively simple process, once you learn the basic skills involved. Let's briefly examine how this may be done. New Year's Eve is upon us and Jim doesn't have a date. He is dreading the night, feels like a social outcast, and sees himself as a miserable failure. Here is how Jim can reframe his negative thoughts. "New Year's Eve is only one day of the year, and it's not realistic to be judged a failure or a success because of one day. I can use this time to catch up on the reading I've been putting off." Essentially it is the way we perceive the holidays which causes our dissonance and frustration. Your world will respond with unhappiness, if you see it as a time of "musts," "shoulds," "obligations," and other such cognitive traps. Dealing realistically with the social pressures and other holiday illusions, however, will help you overcome the doldrums.
If you have been feeling down and disconnected during these few weeks, the following are some suggestion that might help you through these tough times:
- Volunteer your services to the needy. Helping others can really enhance one's self-esteem.
- Update your roles. The "old you" may not fit who you are today. For example, the transition from being married to being single requires a different self-concept.
- Surround yourself with friends or take that long over due vacation.
- Be good to yourself. Buy some new clothes, decorate the bedroom, or do anything that can help feel worthy.
- Reframe your negative thoughts to realistic thoughts.
So, as the new millennium continues to unfold, allow this upcoming new year to be a another beginning for you - a year of new and exciting visions and letting go of all the old resentment and "baggage" which has held you back from experiencing life to its fullest!
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