By: Dwight Bain, LMHC
Did you know this is the hap-happiest time of the year for some people, but also the saddest time for others? That is because the holiday season is literally like a magnifying glass to expand the emotions a person is already experiencing. If your year has gone well, this is an incredible time of rejoicing and celebration. However, if your year has gone like it has for many people you have magnified grief, loss or loneliness. Feeling down over the holidays is normal, but can become overwhelming very quickly. The continual exposure to people who seem to be having the best time of their lives, or the television specials with picture perfect families having the best time ever can leave a person feeling empty inside.
If you, or someone you love is missing the Christmas Spirit, know you are not alone. Relationship loss, job changes, or business downturns can leave someone feeling intense negative emotions. Here are five ways to move from the stress of Ugly Christmas Sweater weather to find a place of greater significance.
1. Volunteer more
There are wonderful charities who reach out to the most desperate in our community every day of the year. However it's easy to forget the fact they need high levels of volunteer hours to function. Want to find more joy? Get involved in groups that make a difference by volunteering with wonderful groups like the Christian Service Center, http://www.christianservicecenter.org/ or Christian Help http://www.christianhelp.org/
2. Give more
You may have seen the bell-ringers of the Salvation Army in front of your local grocery store, and if so I hope you dug deep to drop in a few dollars for one of my favorite charities that helps people after crisis events in their lives. http://salvationarmyorlando.org/ to find out more and how you can get involved.
3. Connect more
There are groups to support just about every possible loss or change in a persons life. In fact over two thousand are listed at Resource Point, http://www.resourcepoint.org/ so you can find places to grow through challenging times together with the support of trained professionals who have time and resources to help.
4. Talk more
If you or someone you care for is hurting and feeling deep loss, it is so very important to let other people know. Consider reaching out to people in your family, friends, coworkers or neighbors so you aren't going through this season alone. Simply answering honestly when someone asks "how are you doing?' can spark a conversation to open up the dialogue between you and people who may be more interested in helping you than you could imagine.
5. Write more
If you don't have money for presents and are feeling sad about it, there is a more powerful way to move past Ugly Christmas Sweaters to powerful Christmas letters is to write down how you feel about someone and then print it out to read and give to that person in your life. Reading your deepest feelings to someone you care about will change you and change them. It is a very sentimental way to open the hearts between two people and is worth far more than money.
I hope you are counting more blessings than problems this Christmas season, but if there is more sadness than celebration try each of these options to replace the sadness with joy. Finding the real meaning of Christmas through generous living, will always lead to generous giving and that is a gift that will last the whole year long.
About the Author - Dwight Bain helps people rewrite their story through creative change as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Life Coach. Follow him across all social platforms @DwightBain