image courtesy of Urban Outfitters
My birthday and Christmas have always been hard times for me. Even as a kid I would approach these days with excitement only to feel overwhelmed with sadness on those days. This year on my birthday was no different; I had some fun plans made and my wife and kids who were excited to celebrate with me. Still one thing didn’t go as planned and I had a hard time bouncing back. What is it about these days that make it so hard for me?
Many people have noticed this phenomenon called holiday depression, and while I have seen some good advice to how to cope, there was not much on why it exists other than the stress of the season. Although I do believe that can play into it, I don’t believe that has been what I have experienced. And without knowing why you’re feeling down, you will have a hard time coming out of it.
For me, the issue lies in that I think this time of year will validate me somehow. During this time of thinking of others, someone will think about me in such a way that I will feel significant and valued. It is reminiscent of Charlie Brown hoping to get a Valentine’s Day card. He spends all year thinking nobody likes him, and on Valentine’s Day he thinks that it will all change by receiving a card from the little red haired girl.
Do I spend all year thinking that I am unimportant and have little value? As a kid I definitely felt this way. I’ve gotten better, but there is still times this feels true. I struggle with feeling like I don’t belong. Christmas is a time for family, which validates your belonging.
Here are some questions to help you get to the root of your Christmas depression:
- Are you trying to let your interactions this Christmas validate who you are?
- Are you struggling with belonging? Do you feel that nobody cares for you?
- Do you not like the family you belong to?
- Do you think that everyone else is happy while you are sad?
Knowing where you are in these questions will help you find a way out of your depression.
1. Only God has the right to tell you who you are.
If you are trying to let Christmas validate you, spend more time communicating with God. Read the Father’s Love Letter and ask God which phrase you have a hard time believing. Meditate on that phrase and ask God how that can be true.
2. Being alone is always difficult.
Being in groups of people and feeling alone can be even more difficult. Make plans with people who give you life. You may not be able to avoid all hard gatherings, but plan to mix in a few moments with people who speak life into you. If you don’t have those people, make this your number one priority. God said it was not good for man to be alone and isolation is one of the main tactics of the enemy. The body is God’s gift to you. Use it.
3. Try to be grateful for your family.
So many people are running from where they came from. They hate who they are and their family is a constant reminder of what they hate. You will never be good with yourself until you are good with your family. Your family is a gauge of your maturity. People can’t make you fell mad, angry or upset. They only bring out what is already there. Try to be grateful for the family you do have and the good things they have given you. Call friends that give life to you. Spend some time in worship. You can do all things in Christ. You can do it.
4. You are not alone.
As I mentioned, one of the enemy’s key tactics is isolation. If you feel you are the only one who is having a hard time, you will feel distant from others and isolate yourself. Christmas can be a fun time, but it is not perfect. There are other people who are struggling. At the same time the pain can be good. God is revealing areas where He wants to give you greater freedom. Get a friend to pray with you about what is really going on in your heart. God wants to help.
There are tons of suggestions out there. Find what works for you.
Here are some more suggestions that I feel are helpful:
- Choose to have fun.
- Create a tradition that is meaningful to you.
- Get some people together to watch some Christmas movies.
- Be with friends.
- Eat meals with friends.
- Talk about the good things you see in them.
- Dream with them about your hopes.
- Give to others.
- Actively thank God for things.
If you are still having or know of someone for which you would like prayer, go to the Prayer Coach facebook page and leave a prayer request. I’ll love to pray for you.