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.