Tuesday, November 27, 2012
“Tis the season to be jolly. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la … lame!”
That might be the mantra of someone with the holiday blues. It's not unusual for people to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter months – and it's even more common during the holiday season.
Studies have found that four to six percent of Americans experience SAD, which means there are tens of thousands of people feeling lonely during the holidays.
With boughs of holly and Christmas cheer permeating our days and nights – everywhere from television and newspaper ads to postage stamps – it can be hard for those who are unable to spend the holidays with their loved ones.
Here are a few tips to combat the holiday blues and turn those chilly days into ones that seem merry and bright.
Volunteer: Contact local churches, food pantries and other organizations. An extra hand is always appreciated when it comes to helping the community. Researchers have found a direct correlation between helping others and personal happiness. If you are alone on the holidays or need a boost in mood, consider lending your talents or time to an organization that helps others. It can be as easy as writing a heartfelt card to a retirement home resident or dropping off recent magazines for a hospital waiting room. Trident United Way helps many organizations in the Lowcountry area and is a great place to start if you want to volunteer.
Get creative: If you are alone –
or feeling alone – during the holidays, look around. What can you do with what you have? Is there something that you've been putting off? Is there something you can make out of a currently useless item? Spend the time working your brain – and maybe your fingers, too. Consider using your creative talents to fill a need by quilting a lap blanket for a hospice patient or knitting a bonnet for a newborn. And be sure to share your ideas. Who knows who else will love your creations when they see them on Facebook or Pinterest.
Look back: When feeling blue, it's possible the last thing you want to do is look back on happy times, yet this can be a good thing. Take a moment to look back … really look back. Call or find that friend you haven't spoken to in a while. Browse through your photo albums or flip through the books on your shelves. Anything as simple as re-reading a passage from one of your favorite books or watching a movie you enjoyed years ago can bring about a renewed feeling of happiness.
Be good to yourself: While the TV movies make it seem like everyone has a place to go for the holidays, this isn't true for everyone. So if you're feeling blue, take time for yourself. You don't have to spend money or take a trip – just focus on you and do something that makes you happy. Maybe you'd really like to take a walk on Folly Beach or visit the Market downtown. Or perhaps it's baking a cake, reading a book or having a cup of coffee on your back porch. Treating yourself to something you enjoy will raise your spirits and allow you to relax, refocus and renew.