Holidays aren’t happy for everyone

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 2, 2013

An unofficial and unfortunate statistic about Rowan County is that we experience an average of one suicide a week. For those families who have lost loved ones to this horrific situation, it is far too many. If you entertain feelings of worthlessness, fear or lack of confidence, there are professionals who can steer you toward steps that you must enact to abort those feelings. See a professional right away.
And, know that if you are suffering a loss of confidence and dawning depression this holiday season, you are not alone. The holiday seasons can put those who suffer depression into a deeper slump. The expectation to be happy seems a stark contrast with the sense of worthlessness and loneliness. Do not allow yourself to fall prey to this debilitating disease. Do not cave in to the potential to harm yourself.
If you do suffer thoughts of doubt, do NOT isolate yourself. Force yourself into situations that require interaction. Find activities that you might have neglected for some time.
Tips for lessening anxiety include:

Walk, or exercise in any fashion. Experts have found that exercise releases neurotransmitters and endorphins, the feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression Walking can reduce immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. Done well, exercise should increase body temperature, which may have calming effects. St. John’s Lutheran Church members will be Walking Across America to the National Parks beginning in January. Start getting in shape now and visit us as we walk then!
Give to others. Find a location for Operation Christmas Child or Angel Tree, get a box and enjoy shopping for a child in need. Imagine what that child thinks of you as he or she discovers the contents. Don’t forget to place a card with your name and address inside so that the child who receives your gift can send you thanks! You will be surprised at how this child and family view you!
Visit Catawba College’s Sam Moir Christmas Classic Basketball Tournament. Watch as youths grow into champions. Boys and Girls of high school age across the county vie for the titles and put on a show of valor that is heartwarming.
Listen to classical music. A recent study entitled Listening to classical, pop, and metal music: An investigation of mood discovered that “classical condition participants reported increases in feelings of calmness and relaxation and decreases in reports of worry”.
Attend a school performance. Many schools will have holiday performances between now and Christmas. Chorus and drama, poetry and visual arts shows will be evident in schools. Join the audience and share the joy of seeing the children do their best to entertain and share newfound expertise.
Volunteer to serve others. Offer to serve at a soup kitchen, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, or other service oriented business. Listen to clients’ thank you and feel their sense of need of your presence.
Visit an elder care facility. Take along doughnuts or cookies to the care staff. You will make many, many friends there. Saying thanks, even to people who have never done anything for you, is a gratifying moment.
Go to holiday gatherings, but act responsibly. Interact and chat with others, but don’t rely on holiday spirits (or other substances.) Holidays are often a time of heavy drinking. Remember that alcohol is itself a depressant and abusing it will leave you feeling worse. It is also clearly unsafe for people taking antidepressant medication.
Call an old friend. Most who reunite with an old friend feel the familiar ease of compatibility that makes the slipping away of years seem irrelevant. It seems that conversations continue just as if we last saw them yesterday, no matter how long it has been.
Even if you are not a believer, go to a church to have your hand shaken and welcoming words spoken to you. Hopefully you will be warmed by the ancient words of comfort and receive the added bonus of being invited back personally.
If you are a believer, share your burden with Christ, who is the true source of health and healing and who can bring calmness and peace.
Please know that there are those who care deeply for you and do not wish to lose you. They may be shocked to know that you suffer depression. Reach out and receive healing.
Gerrie Blackwelder is a retired teacher.
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