Five Ways To Chase Away The Holiday Blues
It’s become predictable that the day after Thanksgiving the Christmas rush begins. Freshly cut trees are strapped onto the tops of minivans for the ride home. Houses are quickly decorated with colorful lights and beautiful wreaths hang on front doors.
I love everything about Christmas. I look forward to seeing my favorite holiday shows on TV, listening to jingles that play in every store, and visiting Manhattan to see the department stores windows dressed up, and, of course, the giant Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center where skaters merrily skate nearby.
Since I’m Jewish I don’t celebrate Christmas but I do celebrate Hanukah. I used to beg my parents to put up a Hanukah bush and Christmas tree. No dice.
Short of that I spent a lot of my time at my best friend’s house. I helped decorate their Christmas tree and baked dozens and dozens of butter and sugar cookies.
I try to hold on to the feelings of wonder and awe I had as a child, resembling life in some favorite holiday movie, such as “Christmas in Connecticut” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
I want everything to be perfect. I want to dance at a formal dinner party wearing a lavish evening gown, ski down a beautiful snow-capped mountain, ice-skate on a picturesque lake, or host the perfect party for many of my family and friends.
But the reality is that MS always gets in the way. My dreams don’t match my new reality, and I begin to feel anxious or depressed.
The holidays can be a difficult time for many people living with MS. Losing loved ones, missing dear friends or simply not feeling well can leave us leaving isolated and lonely.
What can we do to feel better? Here are a few suggestions that may be helpful:
- Communicate – Talk to a loved one, friend, priest or rabbi – someone you trust that you know will listen. Sometimes opening up about your worries helps. At the very least you’ve spent quality time in the company of someone you care about.
- Remove the guilt – There’s a lot of guilt when you live with a chronic illness. There’s guilt about being unable to host parties, guilt about canceling plans, or guilt over being unable to finish errands. It’s difficult to stop the guilt, so try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. When a negative thought appears talk out loud to try to disrupt it. You can even sing at the top of your lungs! Do anything to distract it. This is what’s known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. After awhile you’ll notice that your new thought behavior appears automatically. Isn’t that a worthy goal?
- Get involved - Staying busy by doing something nice for others is a wonderful way to chase away the blues. Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about that you can do either in or out of the home. Making a difference in the world is really what the holiday season is all about.
- Avoid expectations and allow yourself to cry - If you’re feeling blue acknowledge it. It’s okay to cry. We all do it! Try to think of the reasons why you’re crying. Having a pity party is okay, but after awhile it’s time to move on. Be realistic about your new reality so you won’t feel disappointed. Try to visualize what you’ll be doing during the holidays. Can you see it? No matter what you visualize, remember that you are a unique individual with many blessings in your life. Count them, and be sure to remember that the MS community cares about you. We’re always here for you. You are never alone. That is truly a blessing that you can always carry in your heart.
- Treat yourself – Ah, now we’re talking. You deserve a gift, a very special gift. It can be anything from learning a new craft to calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. If you can spend a little money perhaps you could schedule a massage at a local therapeutic massage school. Do something that makes you feel good. You deserve it!
If none of this works and anxieties persists for longer than usual, please seek help from a qualified mental health professional.
Do you celebrate your MS Anniversary?