Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Blues

How's my mental health today?

I'm doing OK but I know others aren't.

Christmas was a busy time when I worked in mental health crisis and respite services. People struggle for various reasons mostly brought on by stress - finances, busyness, overindulgence, and other avoidable things. Some stressors aren't as easily avoided - loneliness, illness, poverty, grief, depression, social ostracism, and physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pain.

There are not always easy answers or solutions. A search on the Internet does provide some suggestions and I've quoted one column here. (Source:

Christmas survival 

It's not all turkey and presents...

Christmas is a time for family and celebration for many of us. However, for others the winter blues and problems such as family arguments, feelings of isolation, homesickness or loneliness can dominate the holiday season.

If you or someone you know, is having a tough time whilst everyone else is celebrating, then follow these tips to help you get through Christmas and the New Year:

  • If you are not with the people you care about this Christmas, make sure to phone them or chat online with them at some point in the day.
  • Do something different if you are alone at Christmas: get active outdoors, take part in a Christmas charity activity, visit somewhere you’ve always wanted to see, or rent your favourite film and spend the day relaxing. Think about what makes you feel happy and whatever it is, aim to spend at least part of the day doing that.
  • If you are grieving the death of a loved one, talk to others about how you are feeling, share memories and don’t try to hide your grief.
  • If you are dealing with family separation, plan the holidays carefully. Talk to your parents about what works best - maybe you can spend part of the day with each parent or swap each year.
  • You might know someone who is feeling down or lonely at this time of year. If so, don’t ignore them or pretend that everything is ok and normal. It’s important to ask, “Are you alright?” “Are you depressed?” or “Do you want to talk about what’s getting you down?” Remind your friend that you’re there for them and you want to help.
  • Take the time to visit elderly neighbours and family - remember that they might be alone during the holidays and a chat over a cup of tea with you can make all the difference to their Christmas experience.
  • Volunteer with one of the many charities who need helpers during the Christmas period.
  • Make allowances for others during Christmas. Parents might have to work more than usual, family members might feel stressed or upset and arguments can happen when everyone is together more than usual. Don’t let it get to you, and take time out to be by yourself whenever you need to.
  • If you are feeling down, lonely or if things at home are difficult, then talk to a support organization in your community. 

Similar suggestions can be found at the two following links:

Canadian Mental Health Association Offers Ten Tips for Holiday Peace of Mind

Twelve Mental Health Tips

Who do I know that's hurting and what can I do for them?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —
when you see the naked, to clothe them, 
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
   and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
 - Isaiah 58:6-8 (NIV)

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