Not everybody anticipates the coming holiday season with giddy excitement. For many, the holidays are a time of emotional distress and depression.
Mayo Clinic has some very helpful information on beating the holiday blues and I have provided some of them here. However, it was my friend Gloria Gaither who provided perhaps the most brilliant insights about beating the holiday blues in a devotional she did at a Christmas party.
Here’s her advice, Mayo Clinic’s advice, and advice from the greatest power source of all.
Gloria said, “How we experience life, depends greatly on whether we approach each day with a spirit of expectation or a spirit of expectancy!”
Wait aren’t they the same thing? Not at all. Most of us will approach this holiday season with high “expectations.” We play those expectations over and over in our brain like a sentimental home movie.
Won’t it be wonderful to have the entire family together!
It will be such a blissful time of love and laughter.
Imagine the fun will will have playing games and reminiscing old times.
It doesn’t always pan out that way does it? Like a good trailer to a bad movie the best scenes are quickly over. Old wounds are unearthed, difficult personalities are encountered, turkeys are burned to a crisp, sometimes in the oven and sometimes in the living room.
Life rarely lives up to our expectations and when our expectations are dashed, we end up feeling disappointed, frustrated, and sometimes deeply depressed.
Conversely, people who live with expectancy approach each day prepared for whatever that day might bring. They do not depend on circumstances to lift their spirits. They are constantly looking for the blessings that God can bring in any situation. If people with expectations are often disappointed, people who live with expectancy are often surprised with joy even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Expectancy is an attitude that comes from trusting God no matter what the circumstances. If we expect circumstances to go our way and bring joy to our life, we will often be disappointed.
Mayo Clinic provides these clues to help beat the holiday blues. I have reprinted some of the best. The entire article can be found here.
- Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
- Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
- Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
- Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. The Mayo Clinic article has helpful details to accompany the following clues to beating the holiday blues.
- Plan ahead.
- Learn to say no.
- Don’t abandon healthy habits.
- Take a breather.
- Seek professional help if you need it.
Here’s what the Bible say’s about living with expectancy and beating the blues any time of the year.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Phil 4:6-9 NIV
Have you ever suffered the holiday blues?
Do you have a helpful clue?
This post is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Mike Lahouti. An expert at beating the blues. Ask Lexi!
We learned a long time ago that if you eliminate the ‘stuff’ around the holidays, we are so much more blessed. Now instead of buying gifts for each family member, we buy one $25 gift card and draw names. It gets really funny when Dad gets a Victoria Secret card and my sister (who I’m sure has never touched a hammer) gets a card for Home Depot. At the end, it’s all sorted out and everyone has had another blessed Christmas together. By the way, we give the money we normally would have spent on gifts for each other to a charity.
Love the way Gloria worded her advice: the difference between expectation and expectancy – an incredibly important distinction, one pronounced at the holidays.
I like the expectant attitude approach to life. Great idea. I shared it on the Quakerdale facebook for our followers!