The holiday season is here!
Whether you are gazing at social media, watching television, or doom-scrolling the news, there is an endless stream of movies, memes, commercials, and feel-good stories pushing the joys of Christmas. Tasty egg nog, ugly sweaters, glittering lights, outrageous office holiday parties, and appreciative kids joyously slowly unwrapping presents flood our media, but in the Northwest reality, gray skies, pouring rain, annoying co-workers, fumbling with decorations, bratty (can we even say that) children, exasperating relatives, and long hours are the reality for most of us.
While a million people in Times Square watch a crystal ball drop with unabashed enthusiasm, many of us are at home fretting as our available balance plunges. It can be tough living in times where how we celebrate/cope with the holidays doesn’t align with how we want to live, but it doesn’t have to be miserable.
While some of us get time to visit with family, open gifts, check out Christmas lights, and take a break from work, it is not always true for the construction community, where project and year-end deadlines can add stress to an already fraught time.
For this holiday season, we are putting away the platitudes and roasting up some fresh chestnuts to help develop a mindset that can get you through, and possibly even enjoy the holidays!
Transform Financial Stress into Memories: Without question, financial difficulties, especially with the seasonal nature of construction work, can put a damper on joy and spark anxiety. While Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday promise great deals, you must spend money to get them. Debt doesn’t have sales; it only offers payment amounts.
If the holidays are truly about gratitude and spending time together, then money is no object. Do you remember what your holiday gifts were from when you were five, six, or even sixteen years old? I don’t. But I do remember every Christmas, my family would head out for some Chinese food, and then my dad would grumpily drive around to check out some cool holiday lights.
We know rituals and routines improve mental health and can help individuals, families, and communities build connections. Human connections are a vital and free way to boost our feelings. Go for a walk, hit the trails, go for a drive, or check out a holiday parade. If you want to find other ways to have fun without wasting your funds, check out some ideas here.
Check yourself: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). As the name suggests, SAD is a type of depression related to changes in seasons. It affects many of us, especially those living in the northern latitudes. People living in Oregon and Washington report grappling with SAD at a rate five times higher than the national average.
The reduced sunlight combined with longer nights and gray days disrupts our circadian rhythm, reduces our serotonin, and can lead to feeling lethargic and moody. Serotonin is a natural chemical that regulates our mood. Symptoms related to SAD may include feeling listless, sad, depressed, oversleeping, and agitation or anxiety.
We all have a down day, but if the feeling continues for days or you lack motivation and feel agitated, it may be time to see your healthcare provider. Mental Health America has several self-assessments you can take to gauge your mental health.
Take a Tech Break: While we read endless coverage about the damage smartphones do to young people, adults are not immune to their harm. Too often, we hide behind our smartphones. Whether at home, traveling, or work, pause, put down the phone, look around, and talk with people. The underlying causes of depression, anxiety, and loneliness are multidimensional; however, we can embrace Confuisicious’s wisdom that “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Practicing unplugging will prep you for Friday, March 1, 2024, when we celebrate National Unplug Day! To find more reasons why unplugging boosts mental health, check out the Unplug Collaborative.
Better Days are Ahead: In all seriousness, good things are coming in 2024. At the CSPP, we will have some new initiatives that we hope will enable us to continue normalizing mental health conversations, promote wellness, and foster some joy!
As always, if you are worried about yourself or somebody close to you who needs support over the holidays or anytime, please call, text, or chat the Suicide & Crisis Life Line at 988.
It is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365!