The Holidays: It Doesn’t Have To Be Downhill From Here

The Holidays: It Doesn’t Have To Be Downhill From Here

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

You have prepared for the holidays for months it seems, but are you prepared for the end of the holidays? With its parties, presents, and traditions, this season gets all the focus and is accompanied by happy, excited emotions. But as holiday decorations get put away and all returns to normal, it seems that life is all work and a sense of loneliness creeps in. How can you hold on to joy and the feeling of expectation without ending up feeling the letdown of drudgery and isolation?

That’s a good question, and Dr. Mason Turner, Director for Mental Health Services for the Permanente Group in Northern California, takes on the challenge of keeping depression at bay by listing six mood-boosting tips that promote a positive, balanced holiday season. The best part – his tips are all within the individual’s control and not dependent upon someone (or something) else. His tips: remember a pleasant event, find something to laugh about, share with a pet, spend time doing something you enjoy, express kindness, and volunteer to help someone.

These simple tips are health giving because they bring about thoughts of happiness, they cultivate a stress-free environment, and they allow for a focus away from self. Depression and moodiness can be kept at bay when a person really spends time focusing on any of these spiritual qualities. This is especially important because the World Health Organization reports that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world and “a major contributor to the global burden of disease.”

We’ve probably all heard the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” But the pressure to ensure that it is actually the most wonderful time of the year can be pretty stressful. Dr. Andrew Weil, in his book, Spontaneous Happiness, explains that, “…our culture today…tells us that the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, when we should all be constantly happy. Bombarded with this message…we have developed impossible expectations. The discordance between our expectations of happiness and the emotional realities of the holidays is a major reason for the high incidence of depression at this time of year.”

But when we stop to help others, find moments of peace, and look for ways to express gratitude, we find balance – during the holiday season and all year. Expressing these qualities of love, both for self and for others, tends to de-stress, keeps depression away, and leads to health. Writers have expressed these ideas throughout the centuries and many feel that these spiritual qualities come from the Divine. This Bible statement from Proverbs shows what happens when divine aspects in thought are cultivated in life: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Mary Baker Eddy, who spent much of her adult life working to understand the connection between the Divine and health, also discussed the power of maintaining a spiritual outlook in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Whatever guides thought spiritually benefits mind and body.”

The holidays don’t have to be boom or bust, an incredible high and a profound low. Make a point of surrounding yourself with the glow of love – a glow that is sustained expressing divine qualities inherent in us all and promote health.

About the author

Don Ingwerson Don regularly blogs on health and spirituality and lives in Laguna Beach with his wife - both Christian Science practitioners. He brings his years serving the public in education to his work as a liaison of Christian Science, where he maintains contacts with the media and legislative offices.

Comments

  1. Anne from Agoura says

    Thank you, Don. I really liked the idea from Spontaneous Happiness that we should all be constantly happy. Stuck in the material picture, that could seem impossible, but then we are not really stuck there! God is always loving us, and that love is tangible.

  2. sue says

    Thanks for the reminder of where true happiness is– in being active in giving, helping, loving and practicing joy each day. There is always room for kindness, for seeing the good in ourselves and others and reaching out to others with a smile, holding the door, yielding to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, or just staying calm when emotions try to escalate. Remembering God’s goodness and patience can help each of us to be grateful and joyful each day of the year!

  3. says

    Love the six mood-boosting ideas! I especially like the last one. Happiness comes from giving, not receiving and volunteering is one of the best ways to give. Thanks Don.

  4. Avery says

    Nice article. Important to fact check tough. There is no Permanente, there Kaiser Permanente. Also, the spiritual approach is great – but remember much of the old and new testament is quite punitive. The spiritual aspects you refer to are based in Secular Humanism and modern ideas of psychology. They take from people like Mary Baker Eddy, but add in logic and non-conflicting ideology. Poor Ms. Baker unfortunately had a morphine addiction – which was commonly given for pain during the era.