HALTing Holiday Blues

The Holidays Are Upon Us

For many of you, this season brings parties and family get-togethers and is the highlight of your social calendar. But for just as many of you, this season brings social anxiety, disappointments, and the holiday blues. This is especially true for those of you whose singleness was thrust upon you by the decision of someone else or who remain single longer than you anticipated or desired.

This season is so overly romanticized, over-hyped, and brings with it such overblown expectations that some amount of letdown is almost inevitable. However, you can learn to survive, beat the blues, and maybe even enjoy the holidays.

H.A.L.T. Holiday Blues

Early on in my second singleness, I came across a great acronym popular in counseling circles – H.A.L.T. The gist of it is this: never let yourself get too:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

Since I was newly divorced and given to depression, this helped me – a lot.

Don’t Get Too Hungry

One important aspect of being in a good frame of mind is to take care of your physical body. You are much more likely to enjoy the holidays if you are eating properly, getting enough sleep and getting some exercise.

I should also note that you can eat a lot of the wrong foods and still be hungry and undernourished. Eat enough good quality foods to sustain you – body and mind. And, maybe avoid some of the excess sugar and alcohol that seem to be lurking around every corner.

Don’t Get Too Angry

For some of us hungry and angry go hand in hand. We know what it is like to be “hangry”. So, eating properly will help, at least somewhat, with the anger. But, the most important thing to remember about anger is that you have a choice. You cannot change what someone did to you. You cannot always change your circumstances. But, you can choose how much these things affect your emotions. This is not to say that you downplay or diminish what they did to you. It simply means that you do not let them and what they did have power over you or control your well-being.

Anger is not always about what someone else did to you. You can also waste your holidays being angry with yourself. Anger turned inward can turn into depression. You can beat the holiday blues by forgiving yourself and moving on. Instead of harmful anger and self-deprecation, channel that anger into positive changes. Don’t stew in it and ruin your holidays.

Don’t Get Too Lonely

For many reasons, the holidays can seem like the loneliest time of the year. Some of this loneliness is because of other’s neglect, but a lot of it is self-inflicted. It can become a snowball rolling downhill. You feel lonely, so you start to feel depressed, so you start to isolate yourself. That leads to more loneliness, which leads to more depression, and so forth, and so on. The only cure for those holiday blues is to will yourself out of your door and to where your friends are gathered.

Of course, not everyone has a stack of invitations to accept or decline. Sometimes there are no invitations. There are still ways to beat the cycle.

  • Purposely go out and meet new people
  • Attend church, classes, or other groups
  • Volunteer with a charity organization

Sometimes a little alone time can be just what is needed. Other times it is a trap you get caught in. The key is balance. Don’t let yourself get too lonely.

Don’t Get Too Tired

The holiday blues can also stem from simply having too much on your plate. If you are the type who is easily talked into doing things, cannot say no, and just overall have no boundaries, before you know it, or sometimes with your full knowledge, you end up overcommitted. If you fight a constant battle against an overstuffed calendar, I recommend the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

Here are a few things you can do to help put an end to that kind of holiday blues.

  • Learn to say no without feeling guilty
  • Be realistic about your schedule
  • Purposely build appropriate “you time” and downtime into your schedule

H.A.L.T.

So, if you feel the holiday blues setting in – H.A.L.T.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

P.S. I wrote this post with typical holiday depression in mind. If you suffer from Clinical Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder PLEASE talk to a qualified professional. If you have persistent thoughts of suicide, call a professional – NOW!

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What is your biggest challenge during the holiday season?

Let’s talk it over in the comment section. And as always, please give this a like and pass it on to anyone who might benefit from it.

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