Coping with Holiday Depression

Guest column by Dr. Jeannie Bertoli

So many people struggle with intense emotions during this holiday season. Please know you are not alone.

Holiday depression is a signal to you, an opening. It is a hole drilled in, waiting to see if you will expand it. It is no different than any other pain or aching that comes to your soul. It is an opportunity.

What will you do with it? Will you look within? Will you sit in silence, not seeking the easy, temporary fix? Normally as we feel pain, we seek only the cessation of that pain. We achieve that through distraction, escapism and white knuckling until the circumstances of the discomfort pass, among other coping mechanisms.

We may do that, of course, as we have done so many times. But the opportunity always exists to use these situations for more, for the reasons they have shown up to begin with, for our growth.

You are not sad and lonely because you don’t have a loving partner or family. It goes deeper than that. You don’t have a loving partner or family because you have set up this moment to expand yourself in some way, if you only take the opportunity. How does one do this, you ask? The answer is a few simple steps, and an opening to a radically different way of life.

Create Silence – The hustle and bustle of life has too many stimuli for the quiet necessary to come into peace, and to come into relationship with the guides that are here to support you.
Don’t React – We are so used to reacting to strong feelings with one repair attempt or another, to cover or cope. Instead, just notice your feelings and stop. Simply sit and allow the feeling to flow through you without amplifying or dampening it. Concentrate only on breathing and allowing; do not engage any thoughts that enter. Within a few minutes it will subside, as that is the nature of feelings, to a manageable level.
Engage It – Once the intensity your feelings have subsided a bit, come into relationship with that feeling. Anything that has energy may be engaged. So, do it. Ask: anger, pain, sorrow – what are you here to show me? How are you to serve my growth?
Listen – Now listen unto the silence and see what answers come. I promise you there are answers, as I promise you there are those waiting to be of assistance.

The energy of this sorrow, these feelings, comes to serve you and can whisper its wisdom to you. You need only ask and receive the answers. Then, as you understand its purpose, you may take comfort in that knowledge and proceed with the task of expansion.

Jeanne Bertoli, PhD., is a Santa Barbara-based teacher and author who worked as a marriage and family therapist for 11 years in Washington, D.C. She now hosts a call-in radio show online.

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One Response to Coping with Holiday Depression

  1. Ray December 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Good advice to keep in mind this time of year.