It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
For some people.
The weather has grown significantly colder. Days get shorter by the, well, day. Winter’s shadow begins to yawn and stretch across the landscape as trees reluctantly shed the last of their leafy currency and head off into a well-deserved slumber (to dream about whatever trees dream about).
Your life doesn’t change, though. Rent is still due on the first. Still have to find creative ways to keep yourself fed. Yea, the wardrobe gets a lil’ bit thicker, the colors, a more muted hue (with the exception of those two ugly-adjacent sweaters you keep on retainer for the inevitable encroaching horde of ugly sweater Christmas parties), but nonetheless you bang the alarm clock as per usual to head in to the white man’s world for a check.
Except…those covers feel a bit heavier, as if the darkness of the mornings is sitting firmly on your body, an extra layer of sheets to stave off the cold. The holiday lights manage to illuminate the smiling faces of strangers around you, but it only serves to be a spotlight to your unexplained feelings of despair and disillusionment. The cheer and goodwill towards all you felt last year isn’t sparking up the way that the commercials said it would. Yet, when people ask you “What’s wrong?” you can’t quite put your finger on it.
It seems counterintuitive to feel depressed during the holiday season, but it’s a regular and, sometimes, scientific-based phenomenon. If the feelings you feel start to create a vicegrip on your life and well-being, you could have Seasonal Affective Disorder (which impacts people differently year-round, even in the spring and summer for some!). On a less drastic note, seasonal depression around this time of year is common. The lack of consistent warm sunshine definitely will affect your serotonin. Human beings are just little walking solar panels wrapped in skin cells. Colder weather means you’re inside far more than you’d like to be. It’s simply not a fun time to exist and it only gets harder with the challenges presented by the holidays.
Digging deeper into the lens of the Black and Brown LGBTQ+ community, the holidays are a visceral trigger for many of us, specially when it comes to family dynamics. Many folx within the community do not have good ties with their “loved ones.” Oppressive traditional views. Broken homes. Alienation and ostracization. Since society forces the “family” aspect of the holidays to an aggressive extent with every message a directive to go and be with your loved ones. Not to mention how the holidays are super close to the end of the year, which can trigger a slew of other feelings around the ending of a personal era and the beginning of a new one.
The holidays aren’t fun for everyone, and that’s okay! Here are some ways you can cope with the Dreaded Holiday Doldrums and get your spirit back together:
Listen to your body.
Now’s a good time to get back in touch with your therapist and primary care practitioner. Be sure to start up any (prescribed) meds if you are clinically depressed or anxious. It might also be a great opportunity to reflect on your current care options and see if you need to find practitioners that better suit your needs. Working out/getting active a little bit each day is another proven method to be an effective means of combatting depression. Try doing a basic yoga routine and develop your own meditation/breathing exercise cadence. You’d be surprised how quickly you can turn things around when you give your body some tender love and care.
Make your own magic.
The heart-mind connection is often times put to the side in major discourses around mental health and overall wellness, but it is important to remember that everything within you depends on one another. Find small ways to take back your spirit by surrounding your space with love and light. Get a new painting (or print one out for your wall). Invest in a cheap essential oil diffuser and use oils like lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree to stimulate your senses.
You want it? Buy it. Be selfish. Invest in your own happiness this holiday by scaling back on gifts for others to get yourself that thing you’ve had your eye on for a while. You only live once, right?
Sometimes the best way to clear the head is to get outside of it. A good way to put your life in perspective is to find local Black and brown charities that cater to the LGBTQ+ community and to the less fortunate. Do a stint with them, take some time to serve others. Who knows how you’ll impact yourself while impacting others?
Stop The Madness.
One of the biggest causes of mental imbalance is stress, and during the holiday season there is sure to be plenty of it. Are your stressors identified and accounted for? Do you have plans in place to take them down a size when they start to loom large? Take the time to list out everything that could be contributing to your overall stress load. Perhaps there’s a way to reduce some of it to give yourself room to breathe.
Chart Your Path.
This time of year can cause many to feel inadequate about their career paths, their love lives, their sense of self, etc. With the new year approaching, it doesn’t hurt to sit down for a second with a nice cup of tea (or rum) and write out some general goals. Plan a getaway trip. Imagine yourself at that new job you’ve been researching at your old job. Make a savings plan for that new watch at the mall. Visualization, followed by some carefully dosed action, can do wonders!
For those of us into astrology, this time of year, when so many are affected by seasonal depression and anxiety, also happens to encompass Sagittarius Season (Nov. 22 – Dec. 22; fire sign, the Archer) and Capricorn season (Dec. 22 – Jan. 21; Earth sign, horned Goat). Sagittarius (an extremely lucky sign) teaches us to be explorers of our own world and to bring vibrant energy to your everyday adventures. Capricorn is considered to be the “father” of the zodiac, encouraging us to take time to learn from our past mistakes and get organized for the future. So, take heart, the cosmos are on your side and ready to propel you forward.
Seasonal depression happens, but it doesn’t have to happen forever. Take things one day at a time and, before you know it, brighter (and hopefully warmer) days will be here again!