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Help for the holiday blues

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“Fa La La La La La Leave me alone”

How to not let all this seasonal stuff get to you.

Is it just me or are they starting to sell prepackaged happiness bundled with family and feasting and gathering and stockings and trees and falalala earlier and earlier every year? It seems like I just got the gardening tools stashed away when suddenly there was an onslaught of adverts being shoved in my line of sight when I logged on the YouTube to check out my favourite home renovations and tiny home video shows. 

It is all just a bit too much, there are bunches of people who are happy and festive and looking forward to the season meetups and parties and all that shines. But some of us are faced with a deep sense of gloom and dreading this “festive” season, and for many it’s made even harder by that nagging sensation that something must be off with us that causes us to withdraw or feel sad because this time has rolled around once again. We feel like we just have to try harder, that if we just put in an effort somewhere inside us a light will spark, and viola queue the music our hearts will grow 10X and all the Whos in Who-ville will sing in unison.  

But let’s get real for a moment, shall we? 

It’s okay to feel like you are struggling, it’s also okay to feel sad. I think that being raised in a world that shuns death, loss, and grief has done us a great disservice.  Some of us are facing this festive season alone, or we may be grieving a loss, whatever the reason for our Seasonal Sadness it is real enough to the person who is suffering.  

You may decide to reach for a little ‘something to take the edge off’ that feeling of melancholy. Of course, it has no positive effect and usually deepens the sadness.  So, what could/should we do with all these ‘feels’? 

Photo by Anna Shvets:
Photo by Amin Alizadeh:

Learning to let them be.

What if we just sat with the feelings for a moment? Listen deeply to ourselves and learn what our lives, choices, mindsets, and surroundings, are trying to tell us. After all all our emotions are evoked from within, something that those who study and practice many schools of mindfulness will attest to.  

Sometimes that simple act of defiance, learning to sit with what is happening to us within us is all that we need to understand that we can see that sensation in any light we choose. It comes from within after all, so we can shift it from that same space.  


And when you do learn to stop running from feelings and learn to face them, you also learn how strong you truly are. If we were raised to believe that emotions will arise, and that how we address them is the real-life experience, I suspect that we would all live in a world with far less suffering and clinging.  Learning that the true meaning of being a part of the human family is extending ourselves to the benefit of others.  

If you are sad that’s ok to say ‘ok self you can sit here and just feel the way you are going to feel, but for 15 min. I set the timer on my phone, you have 15 min to wallow…GO’.  

Can you? Can you immerse yourself in grief? If you can and can as easily walk away from it, then you have just proven to yourself that you were the author of your experience. That’s a lesson those who have struggled with overcoming any addiction can tell you, that ultimately, they were the authors of their story and because of that they also got to change the narrative.  




OK, enough preachy stuff now on to the helpful tips bits!  

If you would like a few tips to help you make it through this season in a clear-headed lighter brighter mindset, then hopefully some of these will prove to be just the thing to help you push that reset button and rethink this season.  

Photo by Anna Shvets:
  1. Volunteer, there are SO many organizations out there in need all year round. Find one and learn how you can make a difference, even what may seem like a little effort on your part, can be something massive to another in need. And the best part, it helps you as well! There is strong evidence that shows those whose focus is on other people and helping them through a low point actually, strengthen their reserve to staying sober and on the path of recovery.
  2. Connect with the community, if you have been through the rehab process chances are you are already availing yourself of the support of a sober community in one form or another, be honest and share how you are feeling there may be others in your group who are struggling with the same things you are right now and maybe together you can be there for each other this season. 
  3. Remember that emotions arise and fall away, let the emotion rise, acknowledge it then let it go. If you stub your toe you may hope about unleashing words that would make a sailor blush, but to be fair you don’t do that all day every day for weeks on end. You feel it, you may blurt out a cuss word or three then you take a deep mindful breath and just let it go. Emotions are like this.
  4. Try to be festive anyway, you know that old saying if you act happy you become happy. Ok so maybe I am paraphrasing there but basically, sometimes you only need to embrace a thing and then it becomes less of a thing. You know get a box of cards and just address them and deliver them to friends, family coworkers. Sometimes when we let ourselves just give something a try, we might find that we really are enjoying it.
  5. : Get outside, and breathe, if going for a walk is available to you, do so. If not, just get out there. Even in the city, Ma Nature is abundant, look at all those squirrels, and birds, and depending on where you live deer may even factor in. Even if you’re getting outside is restricted to something like opening your windows to hear the world and breathe in that soon-to-be wintery air, something in your mind clicks, and you remember how deeply connected we are to every living thing on this planet.  

  6. Eat something delightful, I have this one friend who swears that onion and peanut butter sandwiches are amazing. I think their taste buds are whacked! But who am I to say what is delightful to another? I love kraft dinner and hotdogs, gourmet? Not in the slightest, but a plate that evokes memories of my grandparents and happy times in my childhood. Of course, I also love a great gourmet meal, topped with a triple chocolate mousse, to me both are equally delightful for entirely different reasons.  

  7. Sing. Yep, I said SING! Who cares if you sound more like a bundle of marbles in a washing machine than Mariah Carey, not I. Just sing like no one else can hear you. Of course, if you are a very good singer you may want to seek out a choral group and go caroling this is rather enjoyable for some, and could be for you as well. Who knows 😊 The thing is that singing releases endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine AKA the feel-good chemicals. So, to quote Elmo. “Sing Sing a Song 

  8. Go to meetings, go to as many meetings as you need to. That’s what an Aftercare community is there for.  Yes, I know that was #2 but the importance of being a part of a community doesn’t just fill a gap it actually can help to fight off depression and to promote a sense of well-being.  

Photo by Ricardo Pérez-Saravia:

9: Dress for successLook back up the list to #4, think Sweaters. If you live in Canada, you know the importance of a darn fine sweater, and you also know that donning an ugly sweater is as Canuck as Timbits.  
I guarantee that if you put on a super silly sweater for work, shopping, visiting, basically for any situation that lets you show that sucker off as the comments roll in you will start feeling better.  
BONUS you stay warm.  

 10: Hug yourself.  Ok that may sound silly BUT hear me out, as it happens a little self-squeeze can do wonders for you, it can evoke feelings of compassion, security, and love, release oxytocin, increase sensations of calm, lower blood pressure, and may even alleviate pain. 



Of course if you can get together with friends, family yours or someone else’s then please do so we are social creatures, not everyone can so remember, you MATTER you are important and most of all if you need to talk there are SO many options out there, free accessible and here just to help.  


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