The holiday pressure is on beginning with Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, Kwanzaa, and ending with New Year’s. For many of us, the holiday season can also usher in feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Not to mention, there are those who don’t do well with cold weather or less daylight (seasonal affective disorder or SAD).
With the disproportionate number of Blacks who have become sick or died of COVID-19, along with other life-changing events over recent years, like racial tensions and mass job loss, the African American community is even more at risk for depression this holiday season than in past years.
Well, it is possible to work through your feelings so that these hectic times do not take a toll on you. Here are eight ways to beat those holiday blues:
Exercise the power of “NO!” Some folks have zero problem saying “NO.” But for many people, especially women, the desire to please others often leads to saying “YES” to things you don’t want to do or don’t actually have time for. The holidays are hectic enough without adding things to your ‘To Do’ list that you know you simply cannot accomplish. Remember that there are only so many hours in the day. Whatever you choose to take on limits your ability to do other things. It is essential to protect your own needs and interests. Learn the power of saying “NO” and be crystal clear with it. If you are wishy-washy about your response to a request, then you will wind up saying “YES!”
Seek support when mourning the loss of a loved one. The holidays can be tough for those mourning the loss of a loved one. It can be tempting to want to spend time alone to grieve but avoid doing so. According to mental health experts, spending time during the holidays with friends and family who can give you the support you need to make it through the holidays can be very beneficial.
Occupy your time to get over a breakup. If you are healing from a broken heart, the worse thing you can do is mope around the house. Instead of having a pity party, go out and get busy with things to do. Websites such as Meetup.com offer group outings, like dinners and dancing, almost every night of the week. For 20 years, people have turned to Meetup to meet people, make friends, find support, grow a business and explore interests.
Exercise. Take walks, hit the gym, or hop on a bike; the object is to get your heart rate up by exercising to release mood-boosting/feel-good endorphins. Maintaining a healthy habit like exercise can stave off exhaustion and help us function at our best.
Think positive thoughts. Listing positive affirmations in the morning can help you start your day on a positive note. This could divert attention from self-deprecating thoughts and reframe the way you think.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol is a depressant, and overdoing it can exacerbate any negative feelings that you might have. This doesn’t mean you need to kick alcohol to the curb. Instead, limit your consumption and avoid using alcohol as a way to deal with or avoid difficult emotions. If you choose to drink, try to limit yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks when you are out socially.
Make time to woosah. Make sure to leave enough time for yourself just to chill. Even 15 to 20 minutes a day to enjoy some quiet time, read a book, dance to some Motown classics, soak in a tub, meditate, or some other relaxing activity can do wonders for your stress levels.
Practice gratitude. Spirituality continues to be a strong influence and major cornerstone among African Americans. Gratitude is considered the gateway to spiritual discipline. The continued recognition and expression of gratitude is an acknowledgment of divine grace and the unconditional love of us by the Most High. There is growing evidence that being grateful may not only bring good feelings. It could lead to better health.
In many cases, the holiday blues can be managed with lifestyle changes and social support. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional for therapy if need be. Even though the holiday blues are usually short-term, talking to a mental health professional can definitely help.