Yes, they are upon us…this week. Oh, sorry if I stressed you out there, but if you weren’t prepared for those words, then you’ve got a lot of catching up to do! Thanksgiving is tomorrow! You need to decide if you’re staying in or visiting family, or maybe friends. Let me just say the friends holiday get-together is much easier than the family one. We all love family, but that doesn’t mean they are people we hang around and do stuff with. Me? The holidays are the only time I see some of my family, so I generally look forward to them, in that sense. It seems we’ve all matured enough, and we are all happy enough in our own lives, that getting together isn’t a train wreck about to happen.
Traveling on Thanksgiving is the worst thing you can do. Stress is high–you’ve got to get there in time, because if Aunt Matilda has to serve a dry turkey because you got stuck in traffic, everyone is calling the disaster your fault. Traffic is horrendous. Thanksgiving is the most traveled day in America, more so than Christmas. My guess is because everyone has to work the Wednesday before, so we all get up early Thursday morning to drive, or try to get there Wednesday night. The police are out in full force the entire Thanksgiving weekend. Ambulances and fire trucks are ready to go at a moment’s notice, because all those extra cars on the road, and the added stress of the day, tend to create short tempers on the roads, and we all know what short tempers make…
But it’s not just Thanksgiving. From tomorrow until at least January 2nd we are overtaken by HOLIDAYS. These days are about loved ones, so they can be particularly bitter for some. It’s for your health and those around you that I suggest the following Blues Busters, and things to remember.
Remember the widows and orphans. It’s a commandment of our Lord, Yeshua HaMashiach (the Hebrew name of our Savior), in the best selling book of all time, the Bible with over 5 billion copies sold and distributed. Giving to and serving others releases Oxytocin, Dopamine, and Serotonin; the Happiness Trifecta. We now have scientific proof that helping those in need buoys the mental health of both the giver and the receiver. It is well known that these endorphins create more personal joy, almost like a natural high for the brain. This joy improves health overall, because a happy organism is a healthy organism…whether human, animal or plant. The more of the Happiness Trifecta you can give yourself and others, the better you will able to fend off those Holiday Blues.
It is widely known that the death of a loved one during the holidays can cause great grief for many years following the initial loss. One must learn to not link the death with the time of year, not an easy feat by any means, but in order to bust those blues, it’s almost a requirement. The first set of holidays after a death can also be hard for the family suffering grief. It is important for friends to pick up the slack for the one grieving. Bake extra cookies, grab a meal or coffee together, shop for gifts with each other, whatever it takes to keep the grieving mind occupied enough to realize that life is continuing and is worth it. And if you are the one who’s lost a loved one, reach out. Your friends want to help you, but often don’t know how.
Finances can put a big strain on your Holiday moods. Spousal fighting may increase. Children get more demanding, unless you’ve always made it clear that it’s about the giving, not the getting. Start a new tradition with the entire family serving the homeless, visiting hospitalized friends and strangers (most hospitals don’t really acknowledge the holidays, at least not in my experience), nursing home residents, as well, or maybe making treats for your local fire, ambulance, and/or police stations. These giving men and women have to work regardless of the holiday. Simple homemade treats can go a long way in expressing your gratitude.
Keep things realistic. You can’t do everything yourself. Delegate and let others get joy from giving to you, as well.So, maybe you get your Christmas cards out late this year. Would that be so bad? Staying in touch is the important part, not the timing. Maybe you put out a New Year’s letter instead…or even Valentine’s, when the stress of the season has diminished.
Get outside and soak in the sun. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real. Too little sunlight causes a deficiency of Vitamin D, which can lead to depression for some.
Live in the moment. Enjoy each day for the blessing that it is. Go pet the puppies at the pet store, or walk them at the Humane Society. Maybe babies are more your style, visit the orphanage, or see about rocking sick babies at the hospital. Heck, volunteer at the nursery at your local church. Parents would love if they could attend church without having to worry about fussing children. Or offer to babysit for the single mother, so she can get the shopping done without grabbing hands “helping”.
Do your best to not relive the “good ol’ days”. Nostalgia can be the quickest path to depression, and it’s difficult to know where the line is until it’s already been crossed.
Most importantly, do things that make you happy … really happy. Do you prefer country music to Christmas carols? Nothing wrong with that? Got a favorite Christmas show or movie? Maybe The Year Without a Santa Claus with Heat and Cold Misers. Find it on DVD so you can watch it when you want, commercial free. Do you adore roast beef instead of turkey? Have a favorite wassail? Just don’t drink too much alcohol. It’s unnecessary calories, and can cause more headaches than you really want. We want everyone to be safe.
Also important, stay connected to other people. If you do start to feel depression coming on, call a hotline to talk to someone with experience. The National Suicide Hotline is 800-273-8255. You don’t have to be suicidal to call. They will help you if you are feeling your depression is not under control. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s what they do, so don’t feel like you’d be a bother. You matter. Don’t for one second think that you don’t.
Did You Know? The modern Christian Church teaches that Jesus is the Reason for the Season, and most people believe this, but Biblical students have proven that Yeshua–Jesus–was actually born in the Fall, on Sukkot, the Jewish Festival of Booths.