When Woes Outweigh The Ho-Ho-Ho’s. . . Help For Holiday Depression
Tis the season to be jolly for many of us. The holidays can be a sacred time for reflecting on all the blessings we’ve received during the year and for gift-giving to reflect our gratitude and appreciation of those near and dear to our hearts. It’s also an opportunity to stream carols and binge-watch Hallmark movies while gorging on goodies in between bouts of bough-decorating and decking the halls. And let’s not forget the red and green sea of Santas and stockings and lights and mistletoe and ugly Christmas sweaters. Not to mention the parties and all-smiles family pictures and those letters updating you on what all your relatives have been doing since last December’s communication. Undoubtedly you will hear Andy Williams singing it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Over and over and over again.
But is it really?
Why Anyone Could Have A Blue Christmas
If we’re honest with ourselves, it seems many of us have a hard time getting to the tidings of comfort and joy. If we’re open to admitting it, we often feel burdened with the season’s unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, excessive commitments and forced time with family members we find difficult. As well as our already frazzled nerves having to put up with the singing animated snowmen in every store and that pompously perky Elf on the Shelf.
What should all of us not-so-merry gentlemen (and gentlewomen) do to let nothing us dismay?
Have A Holly Jolly Christmas Instead
From a Chinese medicine perspective, we tend to take our cues from Mother Nature. As of the winter solstice, we have officially moved from fall to winter. Outside there is a natural descending motion occurring, as leaves have fallen, temperatures have dropped and sap inside tree trunks has sunk deeper into the earth. That descending energy all around us tends to make us more prone to depression this time of year. Yet there are some simple but powerful tips and techniques we can adopt that will keep the Grinch from stealing Christmas.
Sugar And Spice Ain’t Always So Nice
Perhaps more than at any other time of the year, we tend to give ourselves a pass during the holidays to overindulge in the seemingly endless supply of sweet treats. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with nibbling on a Christmas cookie or sipping some egg nog. But if you find yourself feeling down, you may want to look at limiting your sugar intake.
When William Dufty’s “Sugar Blues” was first published in 1975, he claimed sugar fed depression and was as addictive as nicotine. Current research still supports sugar’s connection to depression and also says sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. Let that sink in for a moment. Eight times more addictive than cocaine. And yet it’s perfectly legal and socially acceptable. Often our peers pressure us to indulge, too. Admittedly it may be hard to resist all the candy canes and gingerbread men and those sugarplums dancing in our heads. Just be aware, however, that sugar is a depressant. . . and it can make the holiday blues feel even more oppressive. If all-out avoidance seems impossible, then doing our best to limit consumption while not feeling deprived is a noble goal this time of year.
Hark The Herald Angels Sing. . . Or Hum. . . Or Chant
One of the easiest, quickest and most effective ways to get into the spirit of the season is to use the voice. Whether we choose to sing, hum or chant makes no difference as all forms of vocalizing literally lift our mood. This boost to our spirits occurs because vocalizing is an act of vibration. When we sing, we move energy powerfully throughout the body. From a Chinese medicine perspective, as breath fills the lungs it reaches to the first chakra and the kidneys, making a connection that helps ground our energy. Once rooted, our energy expands via singing to vibrate the second and third chakras, fueling our centers of creativity and personal power as that energy then ascends to the fourth (heart) and fifth (throat) chakras. As our hearts and communication centers join in, the vibration resonates the sinus cavities, which fills the head and brain with motion and sound, activating the brow’s third eye chakra and clearing the crown chakra. Thus we are opened and cleansed energetically throughout all the chakras, which can lead to a feeling of catharsis. It’s why we often feel better after singing songs we connect with emotionally. By utilizing singing and toning on a daily basis, we engage in healing activities that help bring the body into balance.
Peace On Earth Via Earthing
Earthing is a technique by which we can reconnect to Mother Earth via placing our bare feet on the ground or by hugging a tree, gardening without gloves, or lying on a sheet on the grass. Prior to the inventions of modern homes built over basements and crawl spaces and shoes with fancy cushioning, we humans were always grounded as we wore simple leather shoes (if any at all) and we slept directly upon the earth. Maintaining that connection allowed our physical bodies to be recharged continually from the free-flow of electrons being given off by the earth’s surface. Is it any wonder then that we tend to be overly stressed and exhausted by our disconnected, ungrounded lives?
There is a reason why 100 percent of people feel better by the ocean. Walking barefoot on damp sand exposes us to the best natural conductors of electrons on the planet. Couple that with the “feel good” negative ions coming off the sea’s breeze, and it’s easy to understand how a stroll by the water is the perfect prescription for feeling relaxed and happy in the body.
While there are many modern “gadgets” that have been devised to make earthing more convenient (like earthing sheets and mats), in my experience working with patients, I have found often that people who get grounded via plugging into a home’s wiring can actually make themselves more stressed and even can become ill. The reason is that grounding ourselves will allow all present energies to run more efficiently through our systems. And if the building we’re in happens to have a lot of lights and computer equipment and Wi-Fi and so forth, that type of energy translates as electromagnetic stress, which can add to any imbalances or symptoms being experienced rather than helping the healing process.
I’ve found during the colder months that many people are hesitant to place their bare feet on the ground for the 20-30 minutes per day it generally takes to replenish the body’s energies. My suggestion is to bring a lawn chair out into the grass and bundle up in plenty of puff. . . down coats and long underwear and scarves and mittens and hats. When layered in enough warmth, baring your feet to the ground won’t feel nearly as chilly as you might think. And the restorative benefits surely will have you wishing you’d tried grounding yourself a long time ago.
By using these simple tools of sugar reduction, singing and soles to the earth, you may soon find you’ve beaten those holiday blues and you feel more like making merry than ever before.