Thu, April 02

<CENTER><B>Letters to the Editor</b></center>

Rx for the Holiday Blues


Are you experiencing a dip in your mood just when it’s the season to celebrate thankfulness and to be jolly? Carving a turkey with friends and shopping for a gift for someone special is a part of life during the holidays.

Drowning your troubles in eggnog and pigging out on holiday candy is not the solution.

If you are feeling alone during the holidays because of death, divorce or separation from your loved one or if you are feeling obligated to visit or entertain friends or relatives that you would rather avoid, perhaps the following guidelines may help minimize the holiday blues.

Before you get defensive about that statement, I suggest that you take a closer look at the real issue that brings on this feeling. It is not in your best interest to allow what you think to color how you feel.

No one wants to be alone during the holidays. And although you may not be in a position to do anything about being with the one you would rather be with, you can do something to help yourself focus on making yourself merry during the holidays. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Avoid alcohol and party drugs. If you are already feeling down, alcohol depletes the brain in serotonin, a chemical it needs to maintain normal mood. Party drugs can only create additional relationship stress. Just say “no.”

2. If you are lonely, show up where people are. Invite close friends to be with you. Ask friends to help you donate to the Eden Center. Volunteer to help at the Eden Center.

3. Exercise and keep those endorphins pumping, especially if you have a tendency to avoid your feelings of loneliness by sleeping too much.

4. Choose healthy food. Pick food that will stabilize your blood sugar when you know you might be sampling lots of sweets during the holidays.

5. Decorate your house or apartment with lots of holiday lights. Do it for you. Often the moods of the seasons are affected by shorter days and longer nights during November and December. Our biological body recognizes these signals and often people react in extreme ways and can’t seem to stop eating, gaining weight and sleeping excessively.

6. If visits from certain people during the holidays in the past have affected you in a negative way, it’s time to assert yourself. Let them know that “this is not a good time for me to have guests,” or “I have other plans this year, but thanks for asking.” You do not have to make excuses or defend yourself. They may expect you to give an excuse, but you don’t have to do it. Make your own choices. Assert your right to say, “No, and thanks for asking.”

7. Practice gratitude. Be thankful for all the things you do have and avoid focusing on what you lack. Count your blessings. Make a list. When you really look, you can find many positive things to focus on. Pity parties are out.

8. If you have children or loved ones who come to visit, do your best to create an atmosphere that focuses on doing rather than having. Plan lots of holiday activities together, bake some cookies together; read a story aloud; make your own holiday decorations; give homemade gifts.

9. Emphasize the more spiritual aspects of your holiday. Attend a special holiday service (i.e. a candle lighting service), take a drive around the city and enjoy the Christmas lights and holiday decorations. Doing so can help you understand that you are not really alone. God is there for you, if you ask him to be.

10. Read a good book; one that will help you focus on being the very best person you can be; one that will help you understand that the only relationship you have total responsibility for is the one you have with yourself. Take time for you. Never stop working for you.

11. What about a lack of money? Special pressures of giving often brought on by expectations induced by the media or children’s expectations can also cause stress and lead to excessive spending on credit cards. The result is overextended credit so that the happy New Year brings wilted poinsettias and bills that can’t be met. Refer to No. 8. “focus on doing.” Remember God wants you to use his resources wisely.

12. Host an alcohol-free Holiday Hayride to look at Christmas lights. Solicit volunteers to help you make a batch of cider or hot coffee. Sing Christmas carols at each stop. Check your local newspaper for a list of houses to tour.

13. Visit a nursing home or the Eden Center. You think you’re lonely? Statistics show that many elderly people are often forgotten during the holidays. Your visit will always be appreciated. Give them a small homemade gift or holiday card. Spread some holiday cheer.

14. Be Santa Claus or Mrs. Claus to others this year. Run an ad in the local paper. Rent yourself out or do it for free. One year, I played Santa Claus to a family whose father had lost his job. The children were not getting any toys for Christmas that year. My friends bought gifts for the children and I delivered them dressed as Santa Claus. When you bring joy to others, a little of it always stays with the giver.

Don’t depend on someone else to make your season brighter. You alone must do whatever it takes to do that. Create some new memories. Defy tradition and start your own. There are lots more fun ways to do this. Have a brain-storming get-together with a few of your friends and together create a list of fun seasonal things to do. Remember to ask God what he wants you to do.

Art Knell


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