Whether you feel uplifted and joyful during the holiday season or find your mood in the gutter (it’s not uncommon considering it can trigger loneliness, anxiety, and depression), I hope you’ll be soothed and encouraged by these personal reflections.
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When the holidays threaten to steal your peace…
You may feel a sense of imbalance. Not everyone feels warm and fuzzy when stores fill up with Christmas decorations and the “Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland” is pumping everywhere. Commercials beaming shiny happy families and the smiles of the season cause plenty of folks to feel blue.
There may be a profound disconnect when your emotional state contrasts with a steady stream of messages suggesting you should feel cheerful. December can easily overwhelm and magnify feelings of loneliness, loss, financial hardship, and sad seasons from the past.
Shorter grey days and lack of sunlight may increase despair. The season’s change can affect anxiety and sadness, and less sunlight may contribute to mixed emotions and despair during the holidays.
Ideas to Soothe Despair
While we are all unique creatures with varying sensitivities and circumstances, I offer these tips as someone with a counseling degree who is also in the trenches with you and prone to despair.
Reach out to a friend. Sharing your feelings with someone else requires courage when you’re worried about feeling like a burden. However, it’s perfectly okay to not be okay.
Skip the pity party. Though it may be easy (and even strangely soothing) to allow bitterness to swell within you, choose to say ‘yes’ to an alternative. Say ‘no’ to withdrawing from others, and if you feel you have been left off a guest list, become the host!
Ditch plastered smiles. Faking happy feelings may seem like a good idea, but ultimately, the masquerade is not helpful. Instead, allow yourself to feel the sadness while deciding that there are active ways you can transform the heartache.
Add more sunshine and laughter. Strive to get more sunlight daily. If you can, shoot for 20 minutes. What makes you laugh? Go toward those things and be tickled.
Offer help. Get busy helping someone else, give your time and talents, and volunteer if possible…a focus on helping others is often a powerful antidepressant.
Spend time with animals. They can heal us.
Be a holiday renegade. Remind yourself there is not just one way to carry out holiday traditions…create your own.
Keep moving. Yes, exercise and stay physically active. But also try to avoid unstructured time. Fill your calendar with activities you enjoy.
Nurture your soul. If you practice a faith tradition, take the time to read, pray, and go deeper on your spiritual journey. See a spiritual director, companion, or friend to help you recover your bearings.
Ideas When the Holidays Hold Religious Significance For You…
Since I celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, the following reflections relate to faith.
Shift your focus to the spiritual meaning and depth within the holidays.
Keeping my heart attuned to the spiritual is the most meaningful path I know to experience authentic Christmas joy and wonder.
For me personally, the story of the birth of Christ is richly laden with comfort and good news. When I consider the scene where a fresh new child is born and placed in a humble manger, I recognize myself in the scene.
I see that the dark lowly stable of my own depravity is in fact a blessing, not a curse.
When I become still like that first Christmas night and surrender all I have–my mood, my disordered thoughts, and my worries–I become aware that underneath them, a deeply loved shining soul waits.
My spirit finds comfort when in the night sky of my heart, I freshly discover how the light of the world sees me during this holy season.
Oh, what comfort grows from this RADIANT GLANCE OF MERCY.
When too many holiday trappings distract me from the radiance, I must seek the grace to experience it again.
For me, the Christmas story is an amazing story of transformation. Is it any wonder so many of us love a profound before and after story whether it’s an interior or a life restored?
Unlike our DIY whole house renovation, the mechanics of interior transformation are mysterious. I only know a trustworthy energy appears to glow from a lighter realm and is lovingly holding everything together.
If I’m honest, most days the eyes of my heart are closed in sleep, and I cannot see in the manner in which I am created to see.
Yet each day holds promise for awakening! When I slow down and quiet mental chatter, I can consent to the Presence who is always there.
Purity of heart, peace, and new sight may become possible.
I express this not in certainty, but in wonder:
a heart can become Bethlehem where something new may be born.
You don’t need to live in a monastery or a bubble or complete silence to awaken to beauty. While being out in nature helps, there are practical ways you can cultivate a rhythm which will nurture your soul.
No matter what your work day looks like, you can begin to “work in stillness” and notice your breath. When I do housework and sweep the floors (you know how I love to sweep!), I become aware as I work in stillness that I am no longer simply sweeping.
I am preparing room in my heart for heaven and nature to sing.
The tears often come easily as my blessings wash over me, and the saltwater baptism feels like a precious gift.
These reflections are shared from my tender heart
prone to sadness during the holidays,
prone to shame, and certainly prone to fall asleep.
But even my sadness can become an offering.
I long to place it near the manger,
alongside Frankincense and Myrrh,
under the Christmas blessing of faith and truth.
It’s there I’ll meet
the radiant glance of mercy
shining like a Star in the East.
Awakened to beauty, I pray I may become a reflection of the radiance
and a source of healing light.
I pray that my heart will become a Bethlehem, where something new may be born.
Sending hope, encouragement, and
Peace to you right where you are.
See these holiday posts if you missed them:
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