It’s assumed the winter holidays are merry and bright and for many this is true; however, during particular years, the holidays can be a lonesome, unremarkable season. During especially rough seasons of life or after great loss, the holidays can be downright agonizing.
And so, I ask us to look ahead and consider this holiday season. Is it likely to be bursting with laughter, music, festivities, and family memories in the making? Or is it likely to be one wrought with ache?
If you are anticipating either a solitary or sorrowful holiday season, I think it’s wise to both acknowledge your emotions and to plan for a meaningful holiday season.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
Perhaps you’re feeling down because you’re living far from family, you recently moved and have yet to establish new friendships, finances are particularly tight and you’re stressed, or you recently lost a loved one, and this is a painful season. Identify your emotions.
If, on the other hand, you realize you’re consistently feeling defeated and these holiday blues are a magnification of your daily depression, it’s time to seek help. You see, according to a JAMA Ophthalmology study in May 2013, there is an increase in depression in adults with functional vision loss. I don’t state the increased risk to instill fear but to remind us to pay attention to our thought life. Emotions wax and wane and circumstances will affect our moods, but chronic symptoms of depression should be identified and a plan of healing must be undertaken.
Here’s your plan of attack:
- Seek help from a mental health professional. However, if this is a potential emergency situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), call 911, or visit an emergency room.
- Learn about adjusting to vision loss.
- Find professional help and services for learning to resume your lifestyle with vision loss.
- Find a support group in your area.
- Get connected or reconnected to your community; join a hobby group, church, or other organization where you can meet others and gain a sense of belonging.
- Contribute to others by finding a job and/or volunteering.
Plan a Meaningful Holiday Season
We just discussed how to handle chronic depression, now let’s talk holiday blues.
Consider ahead of time how you can create a special holiday season. You might be far from family or friends, be on a tight budget, or be experiencing the first holiday without a loved one, but what can you do despite your circumstances? Here are a few options.
- Plan to volunteer. Maybe you can wrap presents at a local foster care agency, serve food at a homeless shelter, or play music at a retirement home. Giving our time and talents to others is a balm to the soul. The key here is planning the volunteer service now!
- Attend a holiday performance. Look now for tickets to a local holiday play, children’s theater or choir production, a church play, an orchestra show, a concert, or a movie.
- Take a trip. By yourself or with a loved one or friend, explore an unfamiliar city, theme park, or outdoor adventure and make new memories.
- Plan or attend a holiday celebration with your coworkers or fellow hobby friends.
Take initiative and create a few good memories. It may be a challenging season, but the emptiness can create space for new happenings.