Holidays (and other days that are now designed to celebrate commercialism) can often leave you in a dismal slump and particularly so if you suffer with depression. Along with “The Tools” (my very own, tried and true combination of techniques and tricks to manage my depression), I find that the following activities keep me from sliding into the behavior patterns that get us on the Naughty List!
The “blues” and depression are results of an imbalance in brain chemistry. This goal of this article is to give you some options to boost the positive emotion, brain chemicals naturally. I offer you exactly what I do that works for me to make what could be a stressful time into something enjoyable – or at least tolerable and less painful. The goal is Better today than yesterday, Better this moment than the moment before.
As with EVERYTHING, it works if you work it. It is always up to you to (1) CHOOSE how you to respond, rather than react, to situations and (2) COMMIT to The Experiment which means not to have an attachment to the outcome (have no expectations of what should-would-could be) and to try, try, and try again to improve upon today for better tomorrows. The main Tools to apply are:
- Make it FUN. Do whatever it takes to transform chores into playful activities. It is a proven fact that the more fun you have, the better your experiences are because dopamine (the pleasure hormone) is released in your brain when you’re having fun;
- Observe your thoughts and feelings very closely so that you are aware of changes the moment they happen instead of suddenly being caught in the grip of emotions that built up while your focus was elsewhere. Do not judge your thoughts and feelings, just observe them – they are there for a reason and only by observing without judgment can you become clear on what your needs are and how to fulfill them;
- Interrupt detrimental patterns with The Tapping Technique for immediate results; and
- CHOOSE your desired outcome and Activate (put yourself into the mindset) to take the next step towards achieving your goals
1) Dress Cute EVERY day. There’s a reason for the expression, “Clothes make the man.” It is a proven endorphin (brain’s pleasure chemicals) booster that when you like how you look and what you wear, you not only feel better, but you perform better and you give off an aura of someone empowered by expressing yourself with your style. Arrange your clothes so that it’s easy to coordinate your outfits. The process of arranging your clothes in itself is (i) a needed and useful activity that is FOR YOU and (ii) a mood elevator because the feeling of accomplishment is always an endorphin boost. Choose color combinations and accessories to add sparkle – it is a holiday season after all! This tip is something you should do every day for 2 reasons: (a) expressing your style is a self-love-and-care activity and (b) you contribute to beauty by being a work of art for the world to enjoy (If they don’t appreciate your expression, that’s their problem. There’s no accounting for taste and you didn’t dress for them, anyway – you dress for yourself!)
2) Adopt a Holiday Perspective. Create the season to benefit your good will. As a child, I loved the Christmas Season because people were more polite and strangers would wish each other Happy Holidays. As I got older, I watched the barbarians destroy the Holiday Spirit by choosing to be insulted when someone said, “Merry Christmas” because they didn’t celebrate Christmas. News flash: the VAST majority of belief systems have some kind of celebration during The Holiday Season because for all of the mythologies and ideologies, these celebrations center around The Winter Solstice, the celebration of increasing Light. Give or take a few days, just about every belief system has a celebration during this time of year – hence, the term, Holiday SEASON.
A logical thought; not religiously driven: It always amazes me how people who insist that (1) there is only one God, (2) that God is Love, and (3) they are so faithful, are the first to disparage how other folks celebrate their connection to that same, one God. How is that Love? In my opinion, Love is the farthest thing from their intentions, which is to play the make-wrong game, which is anti-love for themselves as well as for others. What kind of ego must you have to decide how someone should believe in God – that there is only one, right way? Do you see how many types of beautiful flowers there are? Well, if the One God made all those different flowers, how presumptuous is it to decide that only certain kinds are true flowers. If anything, that is limiting God – how ridiculous and contrary to the entire point of believing in a Supreme Being is that?
So along with all of the God-limiting and commercialism comes the fake friendliness. Or is it fake? Maybe these creeple that you tolerate all year long are only able to give themselves permission to be pleasant when the mass consciousness says it’s OK to do so! That is something to pity – that someone needs permission to be pleasant!
My point is that when you are aware (Observe your feelings and thoughts) of what it is that bothers you about the Holiday Season, it becomes easier to Activate your intentions and change unpleasantness into empowerment for joy! Do whatever it takes that is healthy and life-affirming to shift your perspective to sharing in the good feelings rather than focusing on the negatives. Here’s what I do:
Depression Buster Technique: Recreate To Celebrate
You can also use this technique for any type of event, e.g., weddings, baby showers, Valentine’s Day when you’re single, etc.
- What do you like about The Season? Focus on that and bring more of it into your environment. For example, I absolutely adore all of the lights and decorations! While I am not a Christian, I love the tradition of a Christmas Tree and that people of higher consciousness look to unify traditions with a Holiday Tree! My Holiday Trees are decorated with ornaments that represent Christmas, Diwali, Channukah, Kwaanza, Yule, and New Year’s along with whatever goodies I can find to represent the best in what Deepak Chopra calls, “the world’s wisdom traditions.” I also add ornaments in the shape of a few of my favorite things like shoes, handbags, puppies, kittens, and chocolate candies! I usually have a Holiday Tree trimming party where guests are asked to learn something about a belief system other than their own. They bring an ornament to represent their own faith and one to represent the belief they learned about. If you can’t find an ornament, you make one! The ornaments are wonderful keepsakes for me and I relive the beauty of the season every time I decorate my Holiday Tree – even when I don’t have a party.
- Discover or make up ways to feel good during the season. The Yule Season is one of the few times of the year when people can dress up and be a little silly (Halloween is the other haven). Break out that ugly, Christmas sweater! Wear some jingle bells (I love to do this!), sport some antlers, drink from a holiday coffee mug, wrap your front door and decorate! Place photos, trinkets, whatever elicits a smile in places where you will see them regularly. This practice generates pleasure chemistry and, like all exercise, becomes stronger with repetition. Even if you don’t “do Christmas,” do something to get into the fun and catch a ride on the positive energy wave that is happening around the world. What you focus on expands so if you keep your attentions on jolly things, you will get your jollies!
- Sing Holiday Songs. There are lots of non-religious songs to sing as well as Christmas carols. Singing not only feels good and stimulates your breathing, but the pleasant lyrics and sound of your own voice in musical tones and qualities positively stimulate your brain chemistry and cellular charges. (The same applies to the quality of your voice when you speak in depressed, angry, frustrated, etc. tones and words except these yield negative results.) One song that instantly spruces me up is Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops version of Sleigh Ride! When you focus on the instruments and the arrangement, there is much, bouncy fun to be had! And don’t forget to get your dance on, too!
3) Choose NOT to be insulted. And sprinkle “fairy dust” on the nay-sayers. It’s easier to be negative, so there will always be some poop-head-person to try to rain on your parade. For whatever their reasons, the ultimate power is yours; you can choose NOT to be offended. This may sound easier said than done, so here’s a trick: It’s true that when a person casts negative energies onto us that we feel it deeply and “take it to heart.” You actually feel the tightening in your chest!
When that happens, I focus on that heart “density” and visualize it as a swirl in my heart center. I gather it up and sprinkle it away from me with a flick of my hand. You know, like waiving someone away in dismissal. To make this trick really work, say, “I sprinkle you with love, grinch!” Whether you say it aloud or not is up to you, but do your best not to escalate negativity. Remember, negative people are hurting inside and afraid to face their “stuff,” too. So you can have a little pity for them while acknowledging yourself for doing the work not to be trapped and drawn into their pain and negativity. Remember, they do not have power over you; you give your power to what you focus on. So, focus on your happiness and well-being.
4) Give to charity and give yourself a gift. Buy a disadvantaged child a toy and buy one for yourself, too. Toys bring back the fun of childhood when we were allowed to get lost in play. Play is the best, natural prescription for the blues and to shift your brain chemistry. Gifts at any time raise your endorphins, whether you give (without attachment) or receive them. And toys are automatic up -lifters! One of my favorite things to do is to visit toy stores to see and play with all of the new things and my old favorites that are still around. Every Yule Season, I buy a toy for the Toys For Tots program and I buy myself something to play with. If you’re not a toy person, choose a book or a puzzle or something to enjoy yourself with. Be certain to purchase something that won’t be a “regret” later on, e.g., something that is not in the budget. Doing that is a sure setup for depression and possibly, disaster as well as completely contrary to the point of gifting yourself!
5) Know that it’s never too late. If we’ve learned nothing else from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the lesson is that when we pay attention to what we’re feeling, we are freed from our limitations. Ebenezer Scrooge was a bitter, old man who’d wasted so much time hiding from his pain by focusing on his fortune that he missed out on the best tat life had to offer. As soon as he faced his pain (observed his feelings), he was renewed and the joy of living returned to him. You can be luckier than Scrooge and not have to be forced by ghosts to face your truth. You can use the power of being present and give yourself permission to be in the moment, moment to moment, and choose to Be Better by committing to loving yourself. The present is the only time that there is. The past is over and the future is being created NOW, moment to moment. That’s why it’s called the “present” – because it’s a gift. So, if you find yourself moping around on December 24th, it’s not too late to get into the spirit! Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and you can celebrate The Principles of Kwanzaa for 7 more days – which is great for all cultures. You don’t have to be African-American to enjoy the beauty of the tradition. You don’t have to be of any particular persuasion to celebrate someone’s celebrations of life!
6) Celebrate EVERYTHING. A celebration is about sharing joy. It does not have to be about anything other than that. When you share in the joys of others, your life is richer and rewarding because you expand your happiness by being happy. What you focus on expands. I say, “Happy Everything!” to friends and strangers during the Holiday Season and even the grumpiest grump gets a little light in their eyes. But the ultimate celebration is for you because the more you indulge in the good tidings, the more you will have!
7) Volunteer. Especially if you’re a person who doesn’t like to be alone on “certain days,” volunteer at a soup kitchen or a charity organization. Volunteering opens up an entirely unique dimension of giving and receiving that cannot be described in words that are great enough to convey the marvelous essence of the experience. If you’re not feeling like being around people, there are lots of animal charities that can always use a helping hand. You will probably make new friends, too. As with all things, have no expectations on the outcome, observe, and allow yourself an organic experience. To offer your time and heart to the well-being of others is one of the best ways ever to beat the blues! Note: It’s best to acquaint yourself with the organizations you wish to volunteer with at least a week prior to a holiday so that they may organize duties efficiently.
Now, go and put on an Elf Hat and some jingle bells and fa-la-la yourself to fun! I mean that literally!
Happy Holiday Season!