I think there maybe is a little bit of the Holiday Depressive in all of us. It might be due to ill health, the loss of loved ones, the loss of youth, disappointed expectations, or simply fond memories that only others have. But for those who are facing medical challenges and disability, taken together with the financial disaster that the denial of a disability claim often precipitates, the Holidays can seem particularly cruel.
So here are some offerings to our clients from a fellow Grinch who has represented disabled persons for over 40 years, and who has had some of his own personal holiday challenges:
1) Recognize that winter really sucks anyway.
The winter blues is a real thing. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Many of us have it to some degree or another, and we have nature to thank for it.
Hours of life-giving and life-sustaining sunlight are drastically reduced; what daylight we get is more often cloud-covered and dreary; and it is cold, causing us to isolate in our homes instead of getting out and about among our fellow human beings. Honestly, birds avoid this season by migrating, plants say “see you in the spring”, and we just are stuck lasting it out. When you think about it, there’s not much to like about the winter months. And the holidays are smack in the middle of this dreariness.
For some of us then, it’s a good start to recognize that it’s not just us. Nature is not helping in what is already a struggle to be happy during the holiday season.
2) Acknowledge your feelings.
From the Mayo Clinic: “It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.” This season may not be for you, and that’s the reality of it. You may have good reason to not be overjoyed by your circumstances, but you can fight against being totally unhappy all of the time. You might begin by recognizing that the holidays will inevitably pass as they always do, the decorations will come down, and the carols will stop.
And you will have once again gotten through the trying times.
3) But also acknowledge the happiness of those around you.
Someone out there just won the lottery! Someone out there just had a baby! Someone just got a promotion and a big fat bonus! Someone just loves Christmas shopping!
Don’t be angry at them. In fact – if you can – try for a moment to share in the joy someone is experiencing and sharing with you. Sometimes our being happy for someone else can lift our own spirits, or at least give us a break from our own sadness. And taking a break from the sadness, no matter how brief and fleeting the break might be, is a really good therapy.
4) Do something for someone else.
It is fundamental that one of the best tonics for sadness is doing something good for another person. It is instinctive in us as a species that generosity breeds positive emotion in those who offer it. Who knows why this happens, but it does.
So get out of the house and volunteer for something. The opportunities are out there. Churches, synagogues and mosques are great places to wander into to find out if there is a chance for you to volunteer and receive the gift of giving. Even if you are not particularly religious, give it a try. You might like it!
5) Stay as active as you possible can.
Need I say more?
Finally, know that we at Goss & Fentress are thinking about you, and wishing you well during this holiday season.
So smile! Maybe just once?