The holiday season serves as a mental health test for many people. It’s a time of the year that can be fun and exciting, with opportunities to renew friendships and strengthen family ties. Yet some find the holiday season to be stressful and depressing.
Because so many people share good times around the holidays, it can create an emotional burden for those who are alone. Also, those who have experienced losses through death or divorce are faced with the contrast between the exciting memories of the past and the emptiness of the present.
While the physical or emotional structure of their lives makes it easier for some people to enjoy the holidays more than others, attitude also plays a major role in the happiness that can be derived at this time.
No matter what your circumstances and no matter what has gone wrong, this can be an excellent time for reflecting upon what has gone right. – and you know that some things have gone right. No matter how alone you feel, this can be a creative time for getting in touch with others. How about taking the risk of surprising an old friend by calling or emailing someone you haven’t been in touch with for a while? How about putting yourself into a community of helpers by volunteering at a hospital or other institution so that staff members can share the holidays with their families?
And how about resolving to take the steps to overcome sadness and frustration and aloneness so that you can look forward to next year at this time? This may include becoming more actively involved with others at work or your religious institution. It may involve joining a gym or taking a class. And it may involve a course of psychotherapy to help you overcome a loss.
Perhaps some of you have other suggestions to share with us.
The holiday season is not really a separate time in our lives. It is an intensification of the way that we lead our lives. Positive people tend to look forward to the holidays with optimism. Don’t wait until December 2012 to build optimism into your life.