Somebody at Ladies Bible study last night made a good point: something is different about this time of year. I think that’s why it’s so hard to concentrate and focus this time of year. The real issue with the three D’s is that the reaper, the cloud of depression, and the deadlines aren’t going to go away because we turned a calendar page, and the world isn’t going to stop celebrating because you aren’t in a place to celebrate with it this time. Reality is no respecters of persons. And woe to you if two or more of these “D’s” converge. I’ve been in a place where a death led to people struggling with depression. And this is the first year I haven’t had to deal with a December deadline at work EVER during my entire time in the workplace.
The world is putting on the glitz, and it’s hard to focus – so when life keeps happening despite the glow of lights, shopping, and decorations, it amps up the stress of dealing with it. Of course, we don’t want to face that empty chair at the dinner table. We don’t want to deal with the ever-increasing stack of paper and emails mounting on our desk with we really need to be shopping, writing cards, and prepping for parties. And it’s a heck of a time to struggle to get out of bed in the morning when everybody else is up, energetic, festive, and ready to go (and sunset is right when you get off work, so if you don’t go outside during lunch, then you won’t see the sun until Saturday). The pressure mounts for better or worse, so real life is more of a struggle with it’s not going in our favor.
Here are a few tips for dealing with death, depression, or deadlines during this time of year:
1. Realize that there’s a season for everything, and this season will pass. When something happens with regularity, it’s inevitable that it’s going to not work out every once in a while. Sorry, but Christmas is no different. Rick and I have both lost grandmothers in December. I’ve known many people sucked in the doldrums of depression as the days get shorter. And December is a popular time for deadlines while people work to clear the slate and close their books before the end of the year. The deadlines are things you adapt to by learning wise planning, but as for the others I say to do the best you can, and take comfort in knowing that this too shall pass. Christmas comes back every year – so there’s always another chance to have a better holiday season.
2. Do what you can. If you need to scale back this year, do it. There’s so much going on that it’s not likely that many people would notice anyway, and if they do confront you about it, then you’re justified in your decision. And you don’t owe them an explanation for it – if they don’t get it, no amount of talking will help. Be true to yourself, and take it as an opportunity to learn better balance during the holiday season. Who knows – you may discover that letting go of some things help you to rise above your troubles to find some joy in the holidays. It’s strange, but you can find happiness in unlikely places.
3. Reach out to others. I realize this is tough, but here’s why it’s worth it: Grief, depression, and stress are isolating things, and we can get sucked into ourselves easily. I know it’s tough to watch the world celebrate when you feel like that same world is beating the crap out of you, but connecting with others not only opens our eyes to a new perspective, but takes us outside of our problems. In fact, one popular suggestion for rising above grief, depression, and stress is to help others, because focusing on relieving their stress relieves our own. Visit a friend or family member that’s a bit out of your inner circle that you might not normally put on your Christmas rounds. Go out to dinner with friends. Volunteer for a few hours. Take a day to Christmas shop or see a movie – just getting out of the house can work wonders. The best way to keep your world from collapsing is to broaden your horizons.
4. But also take time out for yourself. This is a good suggestion for everybody. You know that I’m big on having hobbies to keep joy in your life, but this also applies to routines you enjoy. Take at least a few minutes each day for yourself, even if it’s just to drink your morning coffee, read a chapter of a book or article, or watch a favorite TV show.Everybody needs time out to stay centered, and the best way to heal is to take time to focus on your restoration.
5. Be true to what brings comfort to you. Some people say that you should hold to traditions if you’re dealing with hard times during the holidays to keep you “anchored.” Others say to break tradition and do something new to avoid memories that may upset you and establish a new reality. I say do what feels best for you on this one. Different people find comfort in different things. Deep inside, you know what will truly bring you comfort. Don’t be afraid to stand up for taking care of yourself not just during the holiday season, but always.
It’s really about staying in balance, which is hard in the best of times and seems nearly impossible when dealing with problems. But it can be done. In fact, your healing and restoration depend on it. The most important time to rise to the best person you can be is when you’re down. This is when you not only heal, but shine a light to others as well.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a wonderful weekend.