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When Christmas time is NOT “Holly nor Jolly” Anymore – The Sad Seasonal Effects of Christmas

Christmas time for many people is not “Holly” nor “Jolly.” For many people, the Christmas season brings up memories of loss, increased feelings of lonesomeness and disconnection from the world. Painful past events and experiences are also triggered.

As a therapist, I have spoken to countless individuals who struggle, and even in some cases dread the holiday season. Christmas season brings up deep rooted historical pain and unresolved human suffering for individuals implicated by their past. One Study suggested that 45% of respondents in North America do not look forward, and even dread the holiday season.

Sadness and depression spike at this time of the year. The emergency department and local police services identify and increase in high risk behaviours during this time, such as self-harm and suicide. What else might contribute to these emotional responses and feelings during this season?

Is it Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or the over focus on consumerism, or the over emphasis on “giving gifts to others” when you are financially struggling, or is it the ridiculous debt that many people put themselves into during the holiday season because of their perception of needing to give to others?

What we do know based on research from Berkeley University is that being more materialistic produces less satisfaction, meaning and gratitude in peoples daily lives, and as a whole overall.

The solution to the Christmas “blues”

  • If you are sad, don’t sit with your sadness alone. Reach out to your family physician or a local mental health professional.
  • Don’t spend what you don’t have. Set a conservative limit on your gift purchases and stick to it.
  • Connect with caring community friends and supporters.
  • Do not align up with societies constructed presentation of Christmas and perceived expectation around this holiday – Change your beliefs to the real meaning, your presence with friends is an amazing ‘gift’ to them.
  • Donate your time to community organizations that are reaching out to those in need and providing support for them during the holiday season.
  • Embrace gratitude and appreciation for what you DO have in life, rather than the opposite.
  • Engage in fun activities – embrace the snow and the possible fun things you can do with it.
  • If you are a spiritual person, many churches offer wonderful events and activities during the holiday such as plays, concerts, dinners, and other festive events.

Wishing everyone peace.

December 13th, 2017