This was first published on ksl.com
I do not have the holiday spirit and I am actually so depressed I wish I could skip the whole thing. I dread the family gatherings and resent the fact I feel obligated to spend money on things we don’t need. I wish I could feel differently, but honestly I’m Scrooge at this point. Any advice on how to shake off these feelings?
Holiday depression can be caused by a number of factors, including fears about not being good enough (that are triggered by family parties) or sharp feelings of loneliness caused by divorce, separation or death of a loved one. You could feel down because of unrealistic expectations about how your holiday celebrations should look or you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder where the darker days with less sunlight affect your mood.
If you find yourself sleeping more than usual, overeating, feeling anxious or moody, having low energy, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy, or if you can’t focus or think clearly, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
According to WedMD, about 11 million Americans suffer from SAD, a sensitivity to the shorter days and reduced sunlight, which disrupts your circadian rhythm or body clock. The lack of sun exposure causes your brain to work overtime trying to produce melatonin.
If you feel sad in the winter and suspect you might have SAD, you should talk to your doctor, get more Vitamin D, maximize sun exposure and possibly even take medication. Most doctors recommend getting 30 minutes of direct sunlight first thing in the morning, and sunlight through a window doesn’t count. You may need a sunbox or some trips to the tanning booths if it's too cold to be outside.
If you have experienced loss, a change at work or are struggling financially you may want to talk to a therapist or coach who can help you process your emotions in a healthy way. They can help you create a healthy mindset for surviving those family parties too. I wrote an article with tips for difficult family parties a few weeks ago, and make sure you get the Holiday Mindset Worksheet.
I also highly recommend the new book "The Depression Miracle" by Greg Thredgold. It is packed with great ideas for beating depression and feeling better about life.
If you just hate the holidays and resent the obligation to spend money, then you need to consciously choose a more positive mindset. We are all in the habit of letting our subconscious minds determine how we feel. When you live unconsciously, you are on autopilot, letting your past experiences and thoughts determine your current mood.
Don't do this.
You have the power to consciously choose your mindset in any moment, but most of us have not learned how to harness that power and control our feelings. We also don’t know how to process feelings in a healthy way. There is a great e-book on my website on processing emotions, which would help you with this. It gives you a procedure to follow when you feel down and guides you through choosing something better.
Whatever you are feeling, it is showing up for a reason. You may need to sit with the emotion and let it play out a little before you can figure out what it’s here to teach you. Life is a classroom, and every experience serves your education in some way. Every experience can make you wiser, more compassionate, stronger or more loving, but you must get conscious about the emotions to use them this way.
Here are some other ways you can choose happiness this holiday season:
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.