The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Long Island Chapter, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization, whose vision is the full participation of Black women in the mainstream of Long Island economy.  

Staying Jolly during the Holly: Managing the Holiday Blues

By Dr. Amandia Speakes-Lewis, PhD, LCSW-R
NCBW Long Island Member & Associate Professor, LIU, Brooklyn and Licensed Clinical Social Worker

This is the season to be jolly while preparing for the holly. We put up Christmas trees, we prepare for Kwanzaa, and the air is filled with holiday cheer. Typically, everyone is festive and happy, but this season can also cause what is known as the “holiday blues.” During this time of year, many people feel sad, anxious, and depressed.

There are many reasons why people feel blue during the holidays -- here are a few causes and suggestions on how to manage the blues:

Longing for Beloved Ones: People have a tendency to reflect during the holidays. Thoughts related to longing for beloved family and friends who have passed on typically occur during this time. This sense of loss can bring on that feeling of sadness or depression.

Jolly during Holly: During this time of year, create new traditions that pay homage to loved ones passed. You can display pictures or even talk about happy times when that individual was present for past holiday events.

Loneliness: Celebrating the holidays alone can be terrible if you don’t have a partner or you are separated from family members geographically; or if you have not spoken to or connected emotionally with others due to disputes in the past. This can make the holiday season quite distressing during this time of year.
Jolly during Holly: If significant others and family are far and few between, share the holidays with good friends. Don’t wait to be included, create your own celebration and invite them in your home instead. If cooking is a bit much for you, you can ask individuals to bring a dish and do a pot luck; or, if finances permit, order a meal from your local restaurant. Many restaurants offer wonderful cost effective dinner options for the holidays.

Financial hardship: A big part of this season is the joy of giving. If your finances are limited during this time of year, you are likely to feel inadequate, or afraid of what others may think of you. Thus, bring on the blues.
Jolly during Holly: The joy of giving comes in many forms; donating your time to help someone else is free and it also makes you feel good. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or helping at a shelter, or spending time with the elderly is great. Sharing and giving will help in alleviating the gloomy feeling, so you can experience what the holidays are really about, giving to others.

Not enough sunlight: Many people are adversely affected by the loss of sunlight they experience during the winter months. This occurrence is known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Your holiday blues will only be exacerbated by limited sunshine.
Jolly during Holly: If you find yourself experiencing the blues, try to get at least 20 minutes of sunlight each day. This can be difficult to do when winter weather hits, but try your best to do so; also try to include exercise. Sunlight and exercising helps to fight any chemical causes that can bring on holiday blues.

If you are aware that the holidays can be tough, try and plan ahead to minimize the difficult feelings related to this time of year. Plan to fill your calendar with fun events as the holidays approach. A tried and true way to beat the holiday blues is to think of the blessings you do have in your life. Make note of all of the positives in your life, here and now. Doing this can go a long way in combating the holiday blues.

With planning and anticipation, the holidays can be delightful, in turn, making your Jolly very Holly for this time of year.

— Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year to all.