Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone many people are starting to feel the weight of this time of year. For some it’s a season of stress and rushing, for others it’s a reminder of change and loss, and of course, there are those who thrive during this time of year and love every minute. If you are someone who finds yourself just trying to get through each day, you aren’t alone, and you CAN get to tomorrow.
Feeling overwhelmed is normal from time to time but during “the happiest time of the year,” it can make you feel even more flooded with emotions. If you are feeling like you would rather be gone or considering taking your own life, you should reach out for help now. Don’t wait until tomorrow – call or text 988, a free hotline for immediate help. If you aren’t thinking about taking your own life, but you are causing self-harm or using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain or cope, you should also call or text 988. These types of feelings and actions are real, you aren’t alone, and you need and deserve help right now. You can also call Northeast Kingdom Human Services at 802-334-6744, 24/7. The holiday blues can be hard, but not so hard that your life would or could be in danger. If this is you, or you think it could be you, don’t wait until tomorrow.
For those of you struggling this season, but not feeling like you are a danger to yourself or others, there are still many options for making it through today and into tomorrow. One option is like above, to call or test 988 which is a mental health hotline. For those of you feeling mostly ok, but still having some mild winter/holiday blues or sadness options include:
Get outside. Yes, getting outside in the cold may seem counter-productive, but it’s worth it. If today feels overwhelming, bundle up and head outside. You can just sit, but you’ll be warmer and feel better if you can walk. Taking time to walk outside, even in the cold, has many benefits.
Call someone. Yes, call someone. Sure, you may be wiping away tears about a loss or stress, but there are many people you can call with your raspy voice and stuffed nose who want to hear from you, even if you are struggling. If you don’t think you have a friend around to chat with, you can call the California Friendship hotline, and at least for 10 minutes, you will have someone on the other line who is there to listen, try it: 888‑670‑1360.
Play the music game. Yes, playing a game alone may sound more depressing than feeling sorry for yourself during the holidays, but it’s not. Look up songs with the words: happy, joy, feel good, party and dance. Listen to the whole song, and if it boosted your mood, write it down! Start to compile a list of songs so that when you hear them, you get a break from your grief. If that song didn’t do the trick, try another. Yet, if you can find some songs that lift your mood, these are great go-to songs to start your day or to listen to on your breaks to keep you feeling at least a little better than when you started.
Go to bed but not too early. We need sleep, but the Goldilocks kind of sleep! Not too much, not too little, just enough. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you may be feeling like a small child who has missed their nap and is ready to melt down at any minute. Try to go to bed earlier, everything can wait, it really can, and, maybe after a good night’s sleep, tomorrow will be even easier.
The above tools and suggestions for trying to relieve the stress of the season are in no way a substitute for professional mental health treatment. We are so lucky to have many mental health providers in our area, online mental health services, hotlines, and helpers available. If you are struggling, and self-help won’t cut it, go further, reach out now. Don’t wait until tomorrow, start today. Don’t stop reaching out until you are feeling heard, supported, and hopeful. It’s a hard time of year, you aren’t alone. Even if today is hard, you are worth it, and we never know when tomorrow might be a little easier. Do your best to keep going, keep trying, and reach out, together we can all get to tomorrow.
Director of The Wellness Center