For many, the Christmas season is the best time of the year. The family gatherings, the beloved traditions, and just the general feelings of warmth and the Christmas spirit. This isn’t the case for all, though. A phenomenon known as “Blue Christmas” affects so many during the holidays. Grief, loneliness and overall depression can overtake those feelings of joy.
Many churches offer “Blue Christmas” services on December 21st – which is the winter solstice/longest night of the year. This service is intended to recognize the darkness in life. But during the pandemic, we may not see as many of these services being offered.
This Christmas season, we may see more depression than ever. With all of the restrictions we are dealing with because of COVID-19, Christmas will look very different for many of us. We may have to avoid gathering with loved ones, cancel plans for holiday parties, avoid church services. These can all lead to feelings of depression and despair. It can lead to a “blue Christmas” in 2020.
So what can we do? There are ways to stave off the feelings of loneliness and sadness during this unprecedented Christmas season. When you see a friend or loved one feeling a little blue during the holidays, here are some easy ways to help.
If you know the holidays tend to trigger sad and lonely emotions, plan ahead. Maybe this means scheduling Zoom calls with loved ones or friends, reducing the number of goodies consumed, and planning specific activities that can build anticipation and counter those feelings of apathy and hopelessness.
Discuss Your Feelings and Needs
It always helps to talk about personal feelings. Have an honest and empathetic conversation with a friend or family member that can help you process what is bothering you. Whether you are mourning a loss or coming to terms with new challenges in your life – talking it over always helps. By being open about feelings, you will discover that others share your emotional struggles during the holidays, and that connection can lend support.
Share Happy Memories
Most seniors can relate to childhood memories of the holidays since they share the same age group. It can be a lot of fun to trade stories about family activities, traditions, keepsakes, and events. Looking through old photos can generate positive thoughts and emotions. Set a time to talk with friends or family – over Zoom or Facetime or in a safe, socially distanced way – and share those precious memories.
Keep a Sensible Diet
Too much of a good thing – sweets, alcohol, caffeine – can wreak havoc on our moods. Keep indulgences to a minimum by avoiding these during the holidays (as much as possible). Try to steer toward lean protein sources like turkey, walnuts, and fatty fish. Along with fresh fruit and vegetables, be sure to add plenty of low-fat dairy. These are great for your body for many reasons, including fighting depression.
Just one hour of exercise per week can help reduce the risk of depression putting a damper on your Christmas. Get outside and get moving – the endorphins, the sunshine and being active all play a critical role in our state of mind.
If you are feeling that you need extra support during the holidays, the counselors at Waters Edge are well-equipped to help. We understand this can be a really hard time, and especially this year, things can get tough. Give us a call, or schedule an appointment online. We are here for you.