Friday, November 7, 2014

3 Tips for Diminishing Depression During Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving, family, prayer, blessing, depression, suicide, God, holiday, therapy
The first of two big holidays is upon us. In a few weeks, we will be celebrating with our family and friends. Traditions throughout the United States, including some things integrated from other lands and cultures, can be special times. The two most common Thanksgiving traditions are getting together with family and FOOD! Lots of yummy food - turkey, ham, dressing, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie... now I'm hungry!
Even with all the great food, the most meaningful part of Thanksgiving is the time spent with family. Perhaps that means a small group of immediate family members or a gathering that includes aunts & uncles, grandparents, cousins or in-laws that you don't get to see on a daily basis. No matter the size of your family, there is warmth, joy and love.
Or is there?
What if everyone else is happy but you feel hollow on the inside? For you this gathering doesn't bring back happy memories from childhood, it serves only as a reminder of pain and heartache. Or maybe you have no family at all with which to celebrate. There are many single people away from their home, widowers or people isolated for other reasons. This holiday may be a reminder of your loneliness rather than anything joyous in life. Many people share your struggle. I have felt that pain many, many times throughout my life. It is crushing, deflating, dehumanizing and can open up a well of sorrow within your heart. Here are a few tricks that have proved extremely effective in my life during holiday depressions.

1) Be Thankful: Imagine that, being thankful at Thanksgiving. Oh, the audacity! Seriously though, if your heart is heavy from the things you don't have, or don't feel you have, count your blessings. They may be few but focus on them. Every single one of them. Write them down. Find things to be thankful for - the last good book you read, chocolate ice cream, your dog, good memories of times spent with your best friend, your creative nature, rain that makes the flowers grow next spring, the color green; anything and everything.

2) Plan Ahead: If you know your Thanksgiving situation is going to be less than ideal, make survival plans now. Is going to your family get together a painful duty? Try something new this year. How about dropping in to say hello and I love you, then heading out to do your own thing. Make plans with friends or schedule activities for yourself such as renting funny movies or working on a hobby.

3) Serve Others: Did you know that there are numerous churches and charitable organizations that feed the poor and homeless people on Thanksgiving?  You can volunteer to cook, serve, clean up or even deliver meals. Plus, you can spend time talking to people, asking about how their life is going. It will be a joy for them just to be treated like a normal human being and you might make a new friend!

If you are feeling especially lonely or low this season, please reach out to someone. People care about you, even if it's not the ones that are supposed to. I care. I will be praying for you this Thanksgiving.
If you have any other suggestions for diminishing depression during the holidays, please share in the comments below.
God bless