So many thankfulness posts all over social media as we get closer to Thanksgiving … can you believe it’s next week?
As we begin the Holiday Season and the stores play cheery music and put up giant displays, you can almost feel the holiday spirit in the air. Although we may feel excited, for some people, this time of year is extra difficult. All of the happiness and joy blaring out from everyone can be overwhelming.
Are you one of the many people struggling with sadness this month?
There are many reasons people struggle this time of year.
Recent loss: Losing a loved one within the last few years can make this time of year especially challenging. Holidays are full of memories from times past. Cooking a favorite Thanksgiving recipe brings tears as you remember how much your loved one would have enjoyed eating it. Or maybe he or she hated turkey and seeing the sales in the stores make you remember how they would complain. You feel a full melt down coming on in the middle of Walmart as the pain of your loss threatens to overwhelm you.
Current Crises: Home foreclosure, job loss, an unplanned pregnancy, and other unexpected circumstances can lead to high stress during the holidays.
Family Squabbles: For some people, the obligatory family visit during the holidays brings out old hurts and disagreements. Drinking, drugs, abuse, and other family tensions can make being around family unbearable.
Loneliness: What if you don’t have a family to spend the holidays with? The holidays can be a lonely time to be alone.
Depression: The shorter days (less sunlight), high stress, and holiday expectations can play havoc with moods and emotions. For people prone to depression, this time of year often begins a spiral down into feeling hopeless.
So what can be done?
Our community: One of the most important things we can do as a community is to recognize that many people are hurting during the holidays. Don’t forget the giving in Thanksgiving! Get to know the people around you and offer encouragement and support. Invite a neighbor to Thanksgiving or Christmas. Go out to lunch with a friend. Offer to baby sit while a single mom goes shopping. Offer a listening ear to a co-worker. As you ponder all of your blessings and the many things you are thankful for, remember to pass the blessings on to those around you. The simple act of listening and a few words of encouragement can help ease stress, anxiety and loneliness during a painful holiday season.
If you are hurting: If you are the person struggling with the holidays, reach out to the people around you. It may sound cliché, but a shared burden really does lighten the load. Your friends, neighbors, and coworkers cannot read your mind; they may want to help, but they don’t always know you are in pain. Even if they recognize something is amiss, they often don’t know how best to help. Find people to confide in. Share that you are having a hard time. Seek out support for the struggles you are experiencing. Counseling or even an online support group can help. Try not to isolate yourself. If your feelings of sadness and depression become more that you can bare, seek help right away.
Here are some websites to look at and phone numbers to call if you are feeling suicidal or need someone to talk to right away:
National Suicide/Crisis Hotline:
Website with chat capabilities: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
You Are Not Alone Network:
Wyoming Suicide/Crisis Hotline: 800-suicide (784-2433)