“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Or so we’re told. The truth is that millions of people feel melancholy, lonely, sad, or even depressed during the holiday season. There’s a term for it, in fact: the holiday blues.
Anyone can struggle with the holiday blues, but those already predisposed to negative emotions tend to be impacted the hardest. According to a survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly two-thirds (64%) of people with diagnosed mental illness say the holidays make their conditions worse.
The holiday blues also strike many people who have recently experienced a loss, a traumatic event, or a significant life change. That includes—you guessed it—divorcees.
Holidays remind us of time spent with former spouses. The memories may be pleasant or bittersweet, or—in the case of an abusive or manipulative ex—reminders of some of the worst periods of our lives.
Major periods of stress and change can trigger depressive episodes as well. If you just completed a divorce or are in the midst of one during the holidays, the pressure of those events may leave you feeling exhausted, irritable, or disoriented.
Sometimes, it’s a case of loneliness. Feelings of isolation are common during the holidays, even for people who aren’t divorced. Blame on the dark days and cold weather, or the time away from work, or the wistful Christmas music, or the way in which the holidays bring many of us back to childhood and mark the passage of another year.
Whatever the reason for the holiday blues, there’s often a great deal of pain, anger, and sadness involved. Complex emotions may show up as well. It’s not unusual to feel shame, guilt, longing, remorse, insecurity, or any number of unexpected and conflicting emotions simultaneously. It’s also possible to feel entirely numb. We all have different ways of processing and coping with the challenges life and the holidays bring our way.
Fortunately, no matter how sad or lonely you may feel, you don’t have to cope with your feelings by yourself. If you’re suffering from the holiday blues, psychologists have a few recommendations:
- Be kind to yourself.
- Acknowledge your feelings.
- Stay active.
- Keep yourself occupied.
- Reach out to friends and family members.
- Create new traditions or visit new places.
- Recognize and express gratitude for the positive things.
If you feel overwhelmed and unable to navigate your emotions, remember that mental health service hotlines are just a phone call away.
ABOUT SANDRA A. BROOKS
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As a family law attorney, Sandra (Sandy) Brooks’ practice focuses on a wide range of aspects in regards to family law. She dedicates her time to assisting clients in domestic law matters including divorce, child custody and visitation, family mediation, spousal and child support, property division, and division of retirement benefits. Other matters that fall under her jurisdiction as a family law attorney include tax consequences of divorce, mediation, prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, negotiating and drafting of separation agreements, domestic litigation, and post-judgment proceedings.
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