ARTICLES / Holiday / Stress
and the Holidays... /
Helen Hunter, ACSW, CMSW
Every year, the media bombards us with
advertisements showing the “happy family”
gathering for the holidays. People from different generations are together,
having a wonderful time, sharing traditions of old and
creating new ones as well.
not that way, though, for a great number of individuals.
For those who don’t have families of their own,
or for those who live alone and have relatives living
far away, holidays often bring heartbreak and
depression. Those who have been used to family
celebrations in the past and no longer have that to look
forward to cannot accept the “change” in the tradition,
especially if they keep hearing about others who are
getting together with their own families.
are two things to remember that can help get you through
the holidays. The first thing to realize is that it is okay to
can be a tough time for many. It is natural to feel depressed when your friends
are having the ideal family gathering. Allow yourself to express your inner feelings.
second thing to remember is to control the holidays, do
not let them control you. This requires planning. If you know that you will be alone on the
holiday, start planning ahead for what you will do. Here are some suggestions for things you can do
to sidestep the holiday blues:
If you cannot be with family, try to spend
time with friends or neighbors instead.
Get away from the source of the depression. If your home reminds you of past holidays spent with a loved one, go on a
cruise, or take a vacation to another part of the
country, or go abroad.
Get involved with an activity. Volunteer at a local senior center, church or
community center that serves meals on the holiday, or
give your services to a hospital. If you know that someone will be alone and cannot
get out for the holiday, visit. If the person lives far
away and you cannot physically visit, make a phone call. In helping those who are less fortunate than
yourself, you can forget some of your own troubles.
others who are also alone to your home to share the
can prepare a meal for them, or you can go out to a
Company always helps ease depression.
to yourself, especially if you have recently lost a
If you do not feel like celebrating, don’t! If you do
wish to celebrate, keep it simple. Remember the TRUE
reason that we celebrate the holidays!
The important point to remember here is that if the old
traditions cause heartbreak and depression, change the
tradition - start a new one!