It’s a reality that some of us are just not in the best of moods during the holidays.  There can be many reasons for this, but sometimes, celebratory occasions bring out sadness in individuals.  I enjoy the holidays and look forward to being with my family, but at the beginning of the season, I always think of my parents, who passed away several years ago.  My dad loved Christmas; when we would decorate the tree, he put on the Christmas “records”, yes, records, and some of the Christmas music we listened to is still popular today.  He got so much pleasure out of doing all the things that made our Christmas special.  And, he could make delicious fudge!

It is normal to feel grief for those we have lost.  But there are those who suffer from depression all year long, and certain times of the year make them even bluer.  Depression is an illness; it can cause physical pain as well as emotional stress.  You and I can’t cure someone that suffers from this illness; it requires professional help.  But we can be more attentive to our surroundings and watch for signs that our work friend may be having a more difficult time in performing his/her duties.  They could be struggling with relationships or physical demands that we are not aware of.  Sometimes the season alone can be the reason their feelings are magnified.  If you know someone who may be depressed, do what you can to encourage him to trust his healthcare provider for professional help.  It is important that they stay on medications and call their provider if symptoms get worse.  

If there are parties after work for the employees to get together, don’t encourage anyone to consume alcohol if they are “down in the dumps.”  Alcohol is a depressant.  Excessive drinking only increases feelings of depression, so this is important for all of us to remember, whether we are with our work friends or other acquaintances. 

During these economic times, folks are doing their best to furnish what gifts they are able to give without extending their budget too far.  Keep track of holiday spending.  If you overspend, you will be pretty depressed when the bills arrive.  Most of the time, people are perfectly happy with the gifts they receive and don’t equate them with dollar signs.  Over-commercialization can be another reason for feeling blue.  Every year, we see the commercials about the brand new luxury car in the driveway, with a big, red ribbon on it!  Let’s get real, folks!  I know they want to sell cars, but I can’t help but think about families who don’t have a home or a job, or may be living in their cars. 

Please use some of these tips to help someone you know that may be struggling with the holidays:

  • Find some activities that are free, and take them out for an afternoon of just “window shopping” or treat them to a funny movie.
  • Take your lunch break together, and listen, if they just want to talk.
  • Volunteering is a great way to help and get to know others, and may be just “what the doctor ordered” to get him/her involved with something different.
  • Encourage them to look to the future with optimism.
  • Trying a new activity just might be the thing to make one feel better.
  • Suggest getting in touch with old friends or family members.
  • Enjoy the present.
  • Spend time with caring and supportive people. 

You are very blessed if you haven’t hit a low spot at one time or another in your lifetime.  For those who seem to be in that low spot most of the time, there is help.  If a person’s work is affected, if they are present in body but not spirit, if they show signs of fatigue or stress, we need to be their advocates.  We need to encourage them to seek professional guidance, in order to get better.  (They need to know they can get better!)  Many companies offer counseling for their employees, and want to help them cope.  They know that if their employees are in better mental and physical condition, there will be less risk of workplace injuries.  We all know the chance for accidents is greater when we feel fatigued or “just not ourselves.” 

Too many times we are so wrapped up in our own job, that we overlook someone who needs help but may be too proud to ask for it.  Don’t let anyone have a “Blue Christmas” without you.  Be there for your family, coworkers, and friends.  You may need a lift someday, too.