Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Feeling down this time of the year?

Our Christmas tree in the den in 2012. We haven't put up the tree this year yet.

I’ve had some scary moments lately. Not scary in that I feel like I’m physically in danger. But scary in the sense that my mood has dipped and I’ve felt some of the depression that I haven’t felt for a good while.
I can tell you when these episodes were. Both happened on Sunday.
In the morning, I realized that I was feeling upset and down. I had been crunching some numbers and thinking about Christmas gifts to buy, and I was disappointed that I couldn’t afford to buy the ones I love everything I’d like to buy them.
It wasn’t just a bad moment. I felt the now-familiar dullness of depression creeping around the edges. Even though I quickly recognized that I wasn’t’ focusing on the important things about Christmas, the feeling lingered.
On Sunday evening, Larry was working on his computer in the den, and I was working on mine in the next room. The TV was turned to a PBS Christmas music special. The music was lovely. The show had all the makings for putting any listener in the holiday spirit. So why did my mood sink so low? Why did I feel so dark?
It’s especially difficult to feel low when the community around me is getting ready for the “most wonderful time of the year.”
I know intellectually that that’s not necessarily true for everyone. This time of holidays is a wonderful time, a special time. However, it’s not and doesn’t have to be the best time of the year for everyone.
A little hard to remember when the lights are going up and the music is playing.
I’ve feeling better now, but I’m still rattled. I remember how depressed I got after Christmas last year, how dark the world seemed—and not just because it was the dead of winter.
I believe that some of my low mood comes from pressure I put on myself. Some of it is societal pressure that I allow myself to be influenced by.
But I do think about the part of me that makes me prone to depression and wonder if it’s stirring.
I don’t want to sink again. I’m taking my medication, and I believe it’s still doing its job. I am much more mindful of my thoughts and how they can lead me down the dark roads.
I decided that I need to take some special precautions this month. I need to do some things to protect my mental and my physical health.
Here are some things I came up with to try:

*Take time for a cup of tea while I sit by the fire.
*Get up early enough to have time to write in my journal and play with Chase Bird before I go to work.
*Write down when I want to get certain things done so they’re not weighing on my mind (things like sending Christmas cards).
*Save time for crafting in my little studio.
*Do things for others.
*Spend time outside.
*Take photographs.
*Listen to my favorite Christmas carols and sing along.
*Play Christmas songs on my keyboard.

What self-care measures do you take during busy times of the year?


  1. Tina, thank you so much for sharing this...and you are not alone! I like the list of things you made to help yourself, that is great!

    Here is a list of things I try to do when I am feeling depressed or down.

    Watch television shows such as "Touched by an Angel" and "The Waltons."
    Listen to some old music from the early 1900's to 1940's.
    Watch uplifting videos and videos that help me to reminisce
    Organize things in my apartment.
    Clean my apartment, especially my kitchen, and reorganize things there.
    Go out for a walk in nature and take photos

  2. good post. i think Christmas time is a hard time every where. miss family or friends who have gone on. i write notes or emails. music. listen to happy uplifting music. take a walk outside. read a good book. ( :

  3. Christmas can be very stressful. I hope the season doesn't drag you down like last year. I think it's great you're being proactive.

  4. I hope this was just a temporary feeling and that it's short-lived Tina. I think Christmas stress can most definitely contribute. I like your ideas though - especially singing Christmas carols aloud :)

  5. This is such a thoughtful and timely post and I hope this feeling had its time and with your self care will move on. But it's one to which I can relate. There is the stress and timing of it all (especially with a week less), the expectations, everything we love to do, everything we have to do and then all those external circumstances. My dad died in December -- it was 20 years this year, but it seems like every year around that time I get testy. And things remind me of those I have lost. And health issues pop in, probably exacerbated by the stress of the holiday.

    Yet I love it. I love the decorating and the gatherings, the wrapping and the joy of it. I had a lot of issues with depression in the past, but the one phrase I hold in my heart is "Who is in charge?" In other words, when it rears its head, I try to not let that control me, but let me control it. To the degree we can, of course -- I think you have exemplified that. Look at it, respect it, honor it, be with it for a bit. But then move on to a new place. That's just what you did and if you keep it up, you'll be fine.Your list is fabulous. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. i've always heard that christmas/holidays are hard on a lot of people...i hope you are able to enjoy them! hugs!! ps, i haven't pulled our christmas stuff out yet...i feel like a slacker!

  7. my best mood-lifter is always spending time outside. i go for a brisk walk almost every day. and when the weather is pleasant, i simply spend time on the front porch with my pups. they make me laugh and smile and that lifts me.

  8. This post really resonates with me-- in fact, I have already written a post quite similar and scheduled it to post later this month. I feel like the PRESSURE for this to be SUCH a joyous time actually stresses me out even more-- like, if I'm not happy, I'm doing something wrong or missing out on some huge secret.

    Thanks for writing this. You, as always, are amazing, Tina.

  9. What a great post! I have a very hard time with this holiday - and the entire winter season.

  10. i think times when we are all "supposed" to be happy can be the saddest for many........too many expectations, too much pressure.......I'm gald you ae making a conscious effort to focus on your health.

  11. thank you for sharing this tina!! i need to be mindful of how difficult the holidays can be for some people. i don't LOVE christmas day....i tend to LOVE everything that leads up to "the day", all the wonderful, special christmas themed trips we take and all the events leading up to christmas day.

    i really don't like the "presents" pressure. i only buy gifts for my boys and co. and just a few other special people, like the little ones in my life!! i feel really good about the limits we have chosen when it comes to gift giving!!

  12. Oh, I know that sinking feeling well. I used to think of it as quicksand. Or like a physical entity that I just want to shove away. This time of year does threaten my peace, but staying close to God, reading Psalms, photography, playing with my dogs, reaching out to others when I'd rather close myself off--are all good measures to ward off the pull downwards. I think even just posting about it is helpful. I love the way you write and encourage you to keep doing that as another way to vent.

  13. I love your depression-busters! Hopefully you'll have some sunny weather so you can drink up the vitamin D. And spending time doing crafts can sure help too.

    One of the things I've realized is that I don't really enjoy Christmas until about December 22nd. Then, I get in the mood to bake and get the house cozy and gifts wrapped, etc. Up til then it's just stress and I am getting better about ignoring all the hoopla.

    I admire your candor so much. I hope it makes you feel better to talk about your issues and get positive feedback from your friends. Give Chase Bird a scratch under the chin from me. :)

  14. I worked in the Emergency Room for decades and this wasn't a happy time for so many- I learned a lot about Christmas limits and expectations during those years. This year I've decided very few Christmas cards, little baking and just a few dinners, I felt better when I decided to let this year slide by us without too much engaging in the 'stuff'. I make a huge effort to stay connected all year, I'm not a big Christmas person anymore so maybe it is easier for me.

  15. Depression is certainly a very powerful feeling to overcome. You know the signs and it's still hard to fight. Good luck to you in living as best you can with depression. The things you have listed will help you to look forward

  16. I think you might be one of the sane ones left on the planet. All this super push to spend more than one has - to frantically race the clock - to celebrate wildly. Perhaps your "inner knower" rebels at the madness all around . . Your list is spot on - a terrific way to enjoy the season -

    I'll follow your list - bet we'll both feel better . .
    Love & Love,

  17. Oh Tina HUGS HUGS it seems to be going around this time of year is hard on so very many of us. I love your list and I am pretty sure if you carry on with the things on it it will help. I have no bought one present or decorated or even shopped so I am pressed for time and that drags me down. I do know I am not going to worry about presents as much so that will be less pressure. Try to do your list. HUGS B

  18. Really, REALLY good advice in your list, Tina! Everyone can benefit from your suggestions. I know that I will be paying attention to a few of the items there that plague me every year (Christmas Cards, especially.)

  19. Thank you for sharing Tina! I am very proud of you, and in-spite of your mood you are resilient and mindful, I admire you for that among other things. Hang in there, this too shall pass you have a great list of things to do for your mental health.


  20. Those are great suggestions, Tina. I'm taking notes for sure!


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