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by Dr. Kimberly Murray, LMFT

Some people feel disenchanted during the holidays, but there are ways to help.

Start by Reading the article “Beating the Holiday Blues” in the November-December, 2020, print issue of Carbon Valley Life, available online HERE.

Is this Me or Someone I Love?

How do we know if we or someone we love is experiencing the holiday blues? It can feel very different for each person. For many, it is feelings of deep sadness, despair, loneliness, confusion, or emptiness. These can be accompanied by anger, envy for others’ joy and presence of their loved ones, or feeling cheated. Perhaps others may express dread, anxiety, and stress about all that is to come. With the loss of being heard for some also comes a feeling of being unimportant, marginalized, and invalidated. You may have a lack of desire or motivation to celebrate the holidays, or you can only seem to focus on the negative that surrounds you. The holiday blues may last for one season, or for others, it can last a lifetime. We may have come to expect that the holidays are always a time of high hopes and even higher let downs, resulting in pressure and subsequent disappointment and failure. We often keep these feelings tucked inside during the holiday season out of fear, embarrassment, shame, guilt, rejection, or an attempt not to burden those around us.

This year, with a global pandemic serving as an undesired backdrop, these constraints to holiday joy and hurtful emotions during the holiday season are even more exacerbated for many. After long periods of social isolation, many had hoped that the holiday season would bring a renewed sense of connection and an ability to be physically present with our loved ones once again. As the fall months unfold, this is not the case. So, are we just supposed to accept the misery and push forward with a forced smile? Absolutely not!

What We Can Do to Help Others:

• Offer human connection! If someone is lonely, reach out and remind them frequently that they are indeed not alone.
• Send a small gift, such as a mini decorated tree for a relative that cannot put one up themselves.
• Send a personal gift or ornament with a recording or picture every year to your physically distant loved ones – “The ornament traveled when we couldn’t.”
• Invite a loved one to share their genuine experience, holding space for them to be angry, sad, or whatever they might feel.
• Send meaningful gifts, gifts that will mean something to the other person, not just ourselves.
• Encourage your loved one to try to start small, with small joyful things, to begin to move into the holiday season with control and even some joy.
• Encourage them to seek additional support, perhaps through therapy. Maybe even offer to go with them to the first appointment.

As a marriage and family therapist with Safe Haven Family Therapy, LLC, Dr. Murray offers support to individuals, couples, and families struggling with a wide variety of concerns, including the holiday blues. She provides this support virtually, making it convenient and easy for you and your loved ones to get the support you deserve. She can be reached at (970) 460-8015 or at safehavenfamilytherapy@gmail.com.