The holiday season (late November until early January) is generally thought of as a happy time, where we eat plenty of good food, are surrounded by the ones we love, and are always in a jovial cheerful mood. Unfortunately, this really isn’t the case for many many people. The holidays could be a time of immense sorrow, depression and grief. This can be due to many things including the increasing darkness and coldness, that natural isolation that cold weather inflicts on us by making us want to stay indoors, Seasonal Affective Disorder, an underlying depressive disorder, and of course, a personal experience with loss. For many, the holiday season is the worst time of the year, not the happiest.
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When working with folks who are struggling with the holiday season, I like to emphasize the importance of 1) determining the true cause of the sorrow, 2) finding a way to move through it, 3) identifying coping mechanisms, 4) finding community. By knowing where your sorrow is stemming from, we can find a way to get you through it. Here are some general measures you can explore to help get you out of a holiday funk.
Eat nourishing meals: Food can be like one big hug. Focusing on warm, healthy meals could be really nourishing to your system. Chinese nutrition theory emphasizes root vegetables, dark leafy greens, and modest amounts of animal meats. Healthy starches and warm spices are great too.
Identify a safe place:This could be your home or your place of worship or spiritual practice, for example. Ideally, this will be a place that you have regular access too. This should be a place where you feel safe to be yourself. And as a general tip, do not make homes out of people choose something stable and strong.
Vitamin D: Less sunlight means less vitamin D, and this vitamin is not only important for growth and development, but studies show that adequate levels of vitamin D can help decrease depression. You can get vitamin D by spending more time outdoors, despite the cold. You can also get vitamin D through supplementation and food.
Proper lighting: Related to the above suggestion, getting enough of the very limited light in the winter could change your day completely. Most of us work indoors during the daylight, but there are plenty of sun lamps you can buy to mimic natural sunlight.
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Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Ideally you could get this nutritious, anti-inflammatory, and uplifting compound in foods such as salmon, olives, and flax seeds, but omega 3 supplementation can be a nice healthy addition to your regimen.
Mediation and a spiritual practice: Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, there is a way to connect to a higher source, that is all encompassing, loving and compassionate. And that higher source can be you! Implementing at least 5-10 minutes of meditation in your day can bring an extra boost of positivity to your winter blues.
Community: If you have a lack of community, which may be causing your depression in the first place, consider stepping outside your comfort zone and connecting with strangers. Just know that you are not the only one going through this. There are opportunities to volunteer for various causes. You can also check out your local church, mosque, or synagogue for free community events, and meals, that are meant to support the community.
Just know that you are not alone!
If you suffer around the holiday season, what are some of your tricks and tips for getting through them?
Comment down below!