The holiday season is upon us again. During this time of year, there is an expectation that everyone will be in a thankful, grateful or celebratory mode. While this may be the reality for some, it is definitely not the reality for others.
- Being unable to find employment after two years of being laid off from your job.
- Having a secure job, but barely making ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck.
- Being a new widow, and this being the first time you are spending your holiday season alone.
- Losing your college scholarship and deciding how you are going to tell your parents the news.
- Just getting out of a long-term, significant relationship.
- Being off from work due to disability and not sure if or when you will be able to return.
- Having reached an age for retirement, but not having enough money in your savings to retire.
Whether you can relate to these experiences or not, these experiences shed light on the reality of many people in our society. These are just a few examples of life circumstances that can lead people into sadness or even depression.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing difficult times, here are some suggestions on How to Beat the Holiday Blues.
There is something about lending a helping hand and helping those who are less fortunate, that gives us a sense of fulfillment especially during times when we are feeling at our lowest. I challenge you to take time out of your day to day schedules to make a difference in the lives of others. For information on local organizations who are looking for volunteers, please visit the following website: http://www.volunteerinfo.org/eastbay.htm
- ENTERTAIN YOURSELF
Can you recall the last time you entertained yourself or made yourself laugh? So many times we expect other people or events to amuse us, when the source of our entertainment should begin with us. I challenge you to find entertainment within yourself. Consider listening to music, reading a good book or watching a good movie.
As we all are aware, the benefits of exercising are plentiful. One of the benefits of exercising is the euphoric feeling we get as our bodies release endorphins in response to our physical activity. What many people may not realize is that we don’t have to be in the best physical shape or engage in the most strenuous exercises to reach an euphoric or “feel good” state. Research suggests that low impact exercise can also place us in a “feel good” state. If you want to feel good, I challenge you to engage in some form of exercise daily. Run or walk around Lake Merritt http://www.oaklandnet.com/parks/parks/lakemerritt.asp, visit the local gyms, take the stairs instead of elevators, walk to Lakeshore Ave or Whole Foods instead of driving.
- VISIT LOCAL EVENTS
When we get into a funk, we have a tendency to want to isolate ourselves from others. As may be expected, this only perpetuates our sad mood and may make us feel worse. One of the easiest ways to lift our spirits and regain interest in being around others is by attending holiday fairs, festivals, parades and events. We are fortunate to live in a region that has a plethora of activities for all types of interest. Two local holiday events that you should consider attending are the Oakland Christmas Tree Lighting Event http://sf.funcheap.com/holiday-tree-lighting-oakland/ and the Oakland Holiday Parade http://oaklandholidayparade.com/.Even after the holidays have come and gone, I challenge you take advantage of other opportunities to mingle. Two of my favorites are the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market http://www.yelp.com/biz/grand-lake-farmers-market-oaklandand Jack London Square Farmer’s Market http://www.jacklondonsquare.com/events/farmersmarket.html
- WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
During the holiday season, especially during Christmas time, many people live beyond their means. They deplete their checking accounts or max out their charge cards to satisfy others’ desires, at the expense of not being able to meet their primary needs. If you feel that you must buy gifts, consider buying inexpensive gifts. If you have a creative side, consider making your gifts. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Be honest with yourself. I challenge you to not live above your means.
- DO SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE NOT DONE IN A LONG TIME
Have you ever thought to yourself, “When was the last time I did…..?” Well, stop asking yourself and just do it. When was the last time you got in your car and just drove with no destination in mind? When was the last time you visited the Wildlife Sanctuary at Lake Merritt to observe the wide arrary of birds? Just because you started a project a year ago and haven’t finished it yet, doesn’t mean you can’t finish it now. Just because you neglected to clean out your closet during the spring season doesn’t mean that you can’t do it this winter season. I challenge you to put all your excuses aside and do something that you haven’t done in a long time.
- TAKE TIME TO GRIEVE
Grief is defined as an intense sorrow for the loss of someone or something that was significant. Although we may grieve for different reasons, we all share the emotional pain that comes from grieving. In 1969, Kubler Ross developed a Five-Stage of Grief Model to help humans better manage our painful emotions. The stages are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. She purported that when humans are grieving, we should be aware of what stage of the model we are in and work through each stage until we ultimately reach the stage of Acceptance. If you are struggling with some type of loss during this season, I encourage you to take as much time as you need to properly grieve. Allow yourself time to work through the emotional pain you may be experiencing.
- LIMIT YOUR ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
Drinking alcoholic beverages is a common feature of social gatherings. Many people like the perceived “stimulating” affects that alcohol can have on our bodies. But, contrary to popular belief, most alcoholic products are not stimulatants, they are depressants. That’s right, drinking alcoholic beverages depresses our central nervous system and impacts the functioning of our bodies. In fact, long-term alcohol use can lead to depression. So, during this holiday season, before reaching for several glasses of wine, beer or egg nog, consider the implications of the extensive consumption of alcohol. I challenge you to minimize the amount of alcohol you consume.
- TAKE TIME TO REFLECT ON YOUR LIFE
When was the last time you stopped to reflect or meditate on your life? When did you last express gratitude in having your health or being able to use your 5 senses? Can you acknowledge that your life is much better than it was 10 years ago? It’s amazing how we take for granted or forget the positive aspects of our lives. Many times, it takes us hearing about someone else’s tragedy or demise that leads us to appreciate our life. Let me challenge you to take time each day to reflect on your life. Celebrate all the good that is in your life, even if it is few and far between.