For many people, the holidays are not the “most wonderful time of the year.” They do not feel “peace on earth, good will toward men.” Even standing with family or friends in front of a beautiful Christmas display does not bring the spirit of the season. A recent survey showed that 55% of Americans experience holiday blues. 75% of Gen Zers and 65% of single adults feel lonelier than their counterparts.[i]
Holiday blues come from many sources including not being around loved ones; suffering from grief or loss; job loss or financial problems; anxiety about health including Covid; poor relationships with family; comparison fatigue from social media; social pressure of holiday activities; longing for days gone by; and feeling depressed about feeling depressed.
Following are suggestions and tools adapted from Adjusting to Missionary Life if you struggle with the holiday blues:
- Mindful Breathing. Sit in a comfortable position or stand quietly. Take a few deep, slow breaths through your nose, pausing after each one. Pay attention to the air as you inhale and exhale. Relax your shoulders and try to breathe so your stomach moves, not your shoulders.
- Find things to enjoy. Savor the beauty in the world, notice the kindness of others, and delight in the Spirit’s presence.
- Set realistic goals and make specific plans for how you will accomplish them. Tackle things that distress you one at a time. Depression responds well to goals and plans.
- Don’t procrastinate. Putting things off can lead to depression. Break down big tasks into smaller pieces. Get started, reminding yourself, “All I have to do right now is ______” or “I’ll just do this a few minutes and then take a break if I want.”
- Do the basics: prayer, scripture study, and service. Focus on gratitude. When reading scriptures, carefully focus on the parts that most apply to you.
- Listen to uplifting music. Choose music that is calm and soothing if you are anxious, or music that is upbeat and cheerful if you feel down.
- Sing. Memorize the words to a few of your favorite hymns. “Hymns can lift our spirits, give us courage, and move us to righteous action. They can fill our souls with heavenly thoughts and bring us a spirit of peace” (“First Presidency Preface,” Hymns , x).
- Review uplifting scriptures and stories. Collect scriptures, personal experiences, quotations, and family stories that encourage and uplift you.
- Review your patriarchal blessing for guidance. Look for ways your gifts and strengths can guide you each day.
- Regular exercise is one effective way to manage stress. Choose to participate in a variety of activities that are both enjoyable and physically challenging. As you focus on the activity at hand, you may find yourself energized and better able to forget the worries of the day. Regardless of the activity you choose, exercise can help increase your stamina and capacity to serve others and to serve the Lord.
- Let go of what you cannot control.The past, the agency of others, the rules, the weather, government bureaucracies, the culture, your limitations, or the personalities of people around you are outside of your control. Focus on things you can do something about, such as your behavior, your part in a relationship, your current choices, and your attitude.
May the Lord bless us to feel His spirit as we celebrate with the world the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]
[i] https://www.valuepenguin.com/holiday-loneliness-survey retrieved 5 Dec.2022.