THE FOLLOWING was contributed by the counselling and support services section of the Terrace and District Community Services Society.
FOR many the holidays mean increased personal obligations, financial stress and reminders of loss. Many of us are not able to be with loved ones. Others have childhood memories that don’t reflect the warm, close-knit families we see on TV. And in the North we can expect cold, dark days and long nights, which can be a trigger for seasonal depression. For many the Christmas season is the hardest and loneliest time of year. Believing that everyone else is having a wonderful time just deepens the feeling of isolation.
What can you do if you are dealing with any of these challenges? Think positively and focus on the present; your body, by eating healthy foods, sleeping enough and avoiding alcohol or other substances; and your spirit by making connections outside yourself through relationships, recreation and the community. Having realistic expectations about family dynamics and relationships will also help.
Here are some specific suggestions.
Write down a list of things that you are grateful for. It may be just that you are alive.
Be grateful that you can walk, see and/or talk.
Be grateful if you have a friend, children or a family
Remember those who are worse off than yourself
Pray to get through today, and worry less about tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or the rest of your life.
Choose one thing that you can do today – then do it. Think of something that you can do that would make someone else feel better – a phone call, a smile, a “Thank You”.
Go somewhere you feel comfortable – a church, a show or a good friend’s house
Volunteer for an afternoon. It really helps to help others.
Do something kind for yourself. Take a hot bath; cuddle your pet, read a good book.
Remember that pain is unavoidable, but suffering is optional. The main thing is to not get stuck. You might even find that you are actually enjoying the season a little more than you thought. Reach out to others. Maybe become a big sister or brother, or adopt a grandparent in a retirement home. Remember that others need love and comfort, too.