The holiday blues and how to defeat them

While the winter season brings cheerful prospects and exciting events to many, it may also deliver the realization of loneliness and loss in place of carols at our front doors—but we can overcome it.

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Cleveland Clinic

; While the holiday season settles into our minds and hearts, we face the double edged sword of loneliness and the optimism we must channel in spite of it.

Jasmin Parrado, Staff Writer

These past few years have proved to forever change the status quo of our very lives. With the endless surge of COVID-19 cases leading to a further surge of deaths and terminal conditions as a result, we arrived at an understanding that, in order to protect the ones we love, we would have to compromise with distance.

 

With distance comes time. With time comes thinking, and with thinking comes one sober fact: we are strung apart like the lights decorating our windows and rooftops.

 

The holiday season has traditionally been regarded as a sacred time of bonding and togetherness, but now, upon new conditions that have urged our caution and safety over the span of the lockdown with anticipatory measures last year, we have felt the empty space between the special days and breaks spent alone.

 

What doesn’t make things any better is the fact that this time of the year already presents rather testing issues that exist by their annual course; dissolved friendships, financial losses and the despair of one’s absence, either by loss or leave, challenge us with the task of enduring the season and embracing the optimism and hope of new tidings.

 

According to studies from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a good 40% of adults experience social anxiety around this time. A considerable 24% of mentally ill Americans agree on their state significantly worsening with the arrival of the holiday season while 40% describe their symptoms as mildly worse in its wake, which leaves us to wonder: just how much has a pandemic with so much force and so many resulting circumstances amped these concerns to the max?

 

Now, as we sit at over five million deaths due to COVID-19, there are already surefire conclusions to make.

 

The world is collectively scrambling to overcome the mental strain of separation and grief, and there is only one way to perceive an otherwise double-edged sword of holiday cheer and isolation beer: appreciate it as it comes your way.

 

Remember some essential back thoughts for considering the mental wellness of yourself and those around you this holiday season:

 

  1. Plan in advance: The frustration of determining the prospects for gathering numerous family members and friends that live entirely separate lives from your own is already a feat to overcome by itself. Be wise about inviting loved ones so that you don’t end up with absences or other situations that could have been resolved or learned earlier.

 

  1. Spend wisely: Your celebrated holiday may already demand a drained wallet; from presents to recipe ingredients, you will be navigating the annual surge of holiday spending. Though it may be hard to determine what qualifies as such, do your best to prevent any unnecessary purchases and unrealistic expenditures that urge a debt you certainly cannot pay back. Americans already struggle with living situations according to their social class—such situations spark negative thoughts and lifestyles that impact their overall physical and mental wellbeing over time. The obvious connection between finances, priority, and anxiety is a prominent behavior seen in our everyday lives that reminds us to be frugal; do the best with what you can.

 

  1. Maintain communication: these days are all about bringing people together to celebrate; our bodies and minds recognize that fact alone, and as a natural aspect of desiring inclusion and social wellbeing, we will want to experience such moments of bonding. However, not everyone around you might be able to fulfill their wishes—their loved ones might be miles upon miles away from them, or they might be excluded from their family household. They might just simply have no one, either alive or by their side. Some people choose to disclose this very fact, while others choose to hide it, which implies that the very people that work beside us everyday are susceptible to this and might be experiencing it, to our oblivion. Check up on the ones you love and invite them—you never know if they are going through something much worse than what is displayed to the world beyond.

 

  1. Keep a healthy eating relationship:: Especially during the holidays, the peak of the anxiety many feel when attending certain events that host dinners and feasts is ultimately reached; concerns of gaining weight increase because of the heartier foods that are traditionally eaten during the holidays, and our bad habits of malnutrition, irregular eating and negative self-image spiral. Not to mention, potentially toxic family members and friends might unknowingly prompt such issues to worsen when we meet them at different events. These days, consider those around you and make sure that they are not falling prey to their own negative thoughts or those of people around them. Do not let unhealthy mindsets plague the decisions you make, and remember that you deserve the sustenance necessary to live and thrive as you are.

 

At the end of the day, we never know what may be going on in the lives of the people we meet; regardless, the best thing we can do for those around us is be mindful and compassionate. The essence of the holiday spirit centers around bonding and spreading cheer—so channel such spirit within yourself. You don’t need to carol around houses or deliver the grandest gifts known to mankind. Sometimes, all you need or can give is your kindness. In that regard, do be kind to others, and most importantly, remember—

 

Be kind to yourself.