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Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are generally the most anticipated events of the year. This is the time that families often get together for a reunion with friends and relatives. It is also a time of gift-giving and merry-making. However, it can also be a source of depression and stress.  

At this time of the year, the entire world, it seems, is in a spirit of celebration. However, many people wish they had loved ones close by to share the spirit of the season. There are our seniors in assisted living homes. There are people in jails and prisons, health care professionals, and our military personnel in service to America around the globe, and many other people who will feel alone. These people cannot be home with their families and loved ones. 

Losses Can Bring on the Blues

Many have loved ones who have made their transition long ago, or have departed very recently. Coping with losing their loved ones can be most unbearable during this time of the year. 

Even losing a job at this time can send one into a spiraling depression. Simply feeling the pressure of buying gifts for loved ones can also lead to anxiety and stress.

Keep It Light and Keep It Real

 Maintaining a humorous mood and keeping your expectations realistic will help a lot to keep you in the holiday spirit. The National Mental Health Association, says you should first take care of yourself over all else. If you set realistic goals and maintain simple expectations for yourself and others, you will avoid the stress and anxiety brought on by the holiday season. 

Over Spending is Depressing

Another significant issue people experience is overspending. Refrain from making that mistake. Don’t spend more than you can afford. If possible, use cash.  That way, you can avoid a huge credit card debt after the holidays. Such a situation can lead you to more troubles and worries in the new year. Also, it is essential to pace yourself since the holidays last for more than one day, spread your activities throughout the season.

Defer the Family Drama

Sometimes people spend the holidays confronting relatives about past conflicts. That is not a good idea. Instead of confrontation, show kindness and grace. Be willing to forgive and forget. 

If you have experienced hurt and neglect from your parents, the holidays are not the best time to air your grievances. If resolving your issues is really your desire, get together to discuss it after the holidays. That is not to suggest that you bottle up all your feelings until then. You can share your opinions with a sympathetic friend or family member as a way to maintain your sanity. 

Don’t Overindulge

 It might feel comforting overindulging on sweets and carbohydrates during the holidays, but the after-effects can make you moody. Drinking alcohol in excess is no different. If you do overindulge, continuing your fitness routine will help you to burn off excess calories. Whether you go to the gym, or simply do some power walking, it is a big help. You’ll feel better, too, if you take a friend along to help alleviate the stress. 

Give a Gift of  You

If you have no relatives or close friends near that you can share the holidays with, there are other ways you can feel more in tune with the holidays. You might consider volunteering to help someone who can’t get out to shop for themselves. You might volunteer to serve food at a facility feeding the homeless, or you might invite friends over who are far away from their family and friends.  Giving of yourself to others is a great way to take away that lonely feeling. 

Look Out for The Boozer

Be cautious of family members who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or those who abuse pain medications or sleeping pills. If someone is acting confused, is having difficulty concentrating or seem lost while amid a family gathering talk with them about your observations if possible. If not, speak with the one that accompanied them about your concerns and considerations. If you are out celebrating, be mindful of your drinking. If you are with a group, be sure to have a “designated driver.”

Get Professional Help If Needed

If you are experiencing feelings of apathy and despair that haven’t gone away for two weeks or more, you may want to seek professional help. Persistent feelings such as these can lead to depression. Depression has typical symptoms that can include a sense of hopelessness. Other signs could be changes in appetite and sleep patterns, boredom, lack of enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts about suicide.  

It is essential to remind you that life is full of changes, and we should take care not to allow ourselves to become overwhelmed. When you are feeling stressed, it is essential to consider what is most important in your life and reflect on the good about these times. If you could talk to someone who’ve had the holiday blues in the past, they will tell you that they usually subside once you get back into your regular routine. Think about it. Have a safe and happy holiday season.

* J Thomas Smith is the host of “Sunday Morning Live” on KMJQ/Majic 102.1 (9-11 am). He is an attorney, author, keynote speaker, and mental health consultant. His latest book, “My Laws of Success: How to Make All of Your Dreams Come True”, will be released in early 2020. Your comments are welcome at

Relationships: Family and friends gather for Christmas dinner party.

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