Given the events of the past year and a half, you may be having a hard time feeling the holiday spirit. While we enjoy spending this season with our friends and family, the pandemic has made this endeavor more difficult. How can we cultivate a festive mood when times are tough?
Holiday Depression Explained
We’ve previously written about the challenges of seasonal affective disorder. Individuals with this condition experience low moods due to a lack of sunlight in the winter months. However, there is a separate cause of depression during December: holiday depression.
The holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness, but for many, they can catalyze stress and sadness. It’s not difficult to see what’s so demanding about this time of year: shopping for gifts, entertaining guests, traveling across the country, and cooking extravagant meals are all the usual suspects.
However, the very concept of the holidays can be upsetting for many. Some people in recovery have not reconciled with their families. Others compare their families with their friends’ on social media. Still others may struggle with the change of plans caused by COVID-19. Regardless of what causes you to feel blue this Christmas, know that there are ways to overcome these feelings and find the holiday spirit.
How to Kindle the Holiday Spirit This December
If you’re struggling to remember that ‘tis the season, you’re not alone. The pandemic and an ongoing barrage of news stories have made it feel like anything but Christmas. If you’d like to get into the holiday spirit, we’ve got a few recommendations for you.
Set Realistic Expectations
Before the holidays begin, take the opportunity to cultivate a healthy mindset. Remember that Christmas doesn’t have to be picture-perfect, and that traditions can change over time. Be open to new experiences this year!
Change What the Holidays Mean to You
If your past is holding you back from enjoying Christmas in recovery, know that you are in control. You can choose what to do for this season – your holiday doesn’t have to look like it did when you were in active addiction. How can you make your celebrations reflect your new values?
Reach Out to Others
If you’re feeling isolated, know that connection can be one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit. Whether you FaceTime with family, visit a therapist, or attend an AA meeting, spending time with others may provide the boost you need.
If gifts are a major part of your family tradition, you may enjoy hunting for them in lesser-known places. Instead of ordering en masse from Amazon, take some time to browse local mom-and-pop shops, craft fairs, and hole-in-the-wall businesses. Seattle is home to so many unique boutiques – visit a few to find the perfect present for your best friend, parent, or sibling!
Enjoy Some Holiday Media
It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy festive movies, television specials, and songs. You can take this opportunity to play your favorites, not others’. This can transform a quiet night in into an evening brimming with holiday spirit.
Remain Focused on Self-Care
Your recovery requires ongoing self-care. The Christmas season is often a time of indulgence; while it’s great to enjoy yourself, be sure not to go overboard. Stay on a good sleeping schedule, have healthy snacks before heavy meals, and incorporate physical activity into your routine each day.
Go Look at the Lights
Drive through your neighborhood (or go on a walk) to peep your neighbors’ Christmas displays! Listen to holiday songs as you drive. The twinkling lights and nostalgic soundtrack are sure to put you in the holiday spirit.
Deck the Halls
Creating your own little Christmas celebration can be extremely rewarding! Consider hosting a small, sober gathering or decorating your home just for you. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on specialty decorations – Washington is home to countless pine trees, which have boughs perfect for decking the halls. If you have children, they’ll enjoy helping you to cut out paper snowflakes. They may also be fans of building a gingerbread house. The possibilities are endless! How can you fill your home with the holiday spirit?
Donating and volunteering are excellent ways to positively engage with your community. Collect winter coats and toys for those in need, or serve in a soup kitchen. There are many opportunities to volunteer in Seattle – visit www.seattle.gov to learn more!
Reflect and Practice Gratitude
There’s so much to be thankful for this December. We ask that you take some time to reflect on how far you’ve come in recovery. How is your new life happier and healthier than the way you lived before? We’re proud of you, and we hope you are too.
Your Source for Support
Whether it’s your first Christmas in recovery or your fiftieth, everyone needs help from time to time. If you’re struggling this December, Lakeside-Milam is here for you. We provide accredited, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorder and mental health conditions. To learn more about the services we offer, contact the Lakeside-Milam admissions team.