Two weeks ago, I was a woman fearless in the face of singledom. I had a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye. Chick flicks, mushy couples on the subway, giggling friends texting their boyfriends—bring it on. I was a woman filled with cheer and goodwill toward all those lucky in love.
But Doomsayers everywhere are calling for the lonely to prepare—to make ready for the holiday cheer that will send us into an inevitable depressive tailspin.
As a matter of fact, I have found that recently my attitude is somewhat altered. The change has came on slowly, but inevitably—like the chill destined to claim a morning coffee that's been neglected for too long.
Popular media would have me believe that my change in mood is a case of the classic “Holiday Blues”. I mean, since when do I find subway canoodlers annoying or “All I Want For Christmas” offensive to the ears?
Since I looked around and saw that the season of love had arrived and realized that I felt alone—that's when.
Everywhere I look the reason for my grinchy attitude seems to point to all this holiday togetherness. But research shows that the idea of “Holiday Blues” is actually more fiction than fact.
Several studies, including one conducted by the Mayo Clinic, report that there is no relationship between depression and suicide, and the winter Holidays. In fact, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) research indicates that suicide rates actually decrease in December and increase again in the Spring. Why an increase in the Spring? Some researchers posit that it is due to the sudden absence of the love and support so readily available during the holidays.
The truth is, there are many factors—other than the love and joy of the holidays—that could explain the awakening of my inner Scrooge. One contributing factor, suggested by many researchers, could be the short, dark, cold days of winter that can frequently affect our moods.
Our diets during the festive season does not help our moods either. The spike in the amount of sugar and alcohol we consume can often leave us with a sugar low and the depressive side effects inherent in alcohol—even a holiday eggnog.
This year, instead of blaming your woes on the Holiday cheer, try tackling feelings of gloom from a different angle.
Limit the sugar and alcohol that comes with the Holiday prep.
Make time to work out. 1 mile or even 1 power yoga class will give you an endorphin boost that will go a long way this month.
Make time for more sleep. It's a well known fact that sleep—or lack there of—has a huge impact on our ability to cope.
Make an extra effort to spend time with your friends and family—especially those who might also feel like the holiday cheer forgot to send an invitation.
It is important to acknowledge feelings of loneliness and take steps to help ourselves or find help. But it just might be that the best way to get happy is to allow yourself to enjoy the best of the season—a warm and sunny break from the winter cold.
(Photo by CJ Schmit)