by Tina Cole-Mullins
Whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays leads the political correctness debate among many. But this is a time when not everyone is merry, let alone happy. All too often, financial stressors, heavier workloads, depression, grief and loneliness hang over the season like a dark cloud.
For a significant number of people, the perfect Hallmark moments that adorn storefronts, televisions, and streets are constant reminders of a sense of foreboding and isolation. A dysfunctional family, a loved one’s or personal addiction, even the chill air of winter as days grow shorter and more dreary can cloak a person like a shroud.
In addition to potential depression and grief, seasonal changes sometimes usher in a sense of loss for the comforting smells, sights and sounds of home. The hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping gifts and overbooked engagements may join with having to let go of the year and the meaningful moments and contacts it had brought. Plus, festive celebrations are often accompanied by guilt-riddled overindulgence in eating and excessive drinking. All of these subtle and not-so-subtle changes may exacerbate stress levels and anxiety.
Experts suggest that one way to minimize holiday anxiety and stress is to create a set-aside space, a haven away from the hoopla. This office, bedroom or nook should be kept free of all signs of the season. It should be a personal space to re-charge, re-focus and regain balance, to remember that the pressures are temporary and will soon pass.
While some may debate the appropriateness of various season greetings, not everyone drinks from the cup of holiday cheer. For those who suffer under the weight of the season, resources are available:
517-337-1717 : The Listening Ear in Lansing offers a 24-hour crisis line www.theear.org.
1-800-273-8255 : National Suicide Prevention organization offers 24/7 hour crisis line as well as hosting an online chat at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Or Text “Start” to 741-741: Crisis Text Line