Christmas Blues

Post Date: December 15, 2022
Author: Eileen Borski

How are you doing as the Christmas season approaches? 

I hope and pray all is well with you as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ during this Advent season. 

However, as a mental health professional, I am aware that this time of preparation for and during the Christmas season can be difficult for many. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 64% of people diagnosed with mental illness reported that holidays make their conditions worse and approximately 66% reported feeling lonely (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2014). Other realities that influence the stress of the holiday are the current reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated isolation for those limiting contact and travel, thus increasing the reality that some of us will not be able to see our loved ones. The holidays can also prompt financial and psychosocial stress due to family conflict and holiday expectations.

So how do we all deal with this?  

First, focusing on self-care is important.  The scriptures provide insight into the value of self-care during the hustle and bustle of this time of year. My heart and thoughts turn to Mark 6:31-32 when I think of self-care. “He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.” – How will you practice self-care?  

Second, accepting that each of us is not alone in our experiences. Considering the reality of others may provide respite when coping with mental health-related challenges. Our faith acknowledges that even if we feel lonely, we can also recognize that we are not alone in our struggles. The Catholic doctrine of the communion of saints reminds us that we are all connected because we are one body, one body in Christ.  – How can each of us help develop a more connected experience during this time of year? 

For me, I take extra time to pray with the saints by asking for their intercession. I have an affinity for St. Gianna Beretta Molla. She is a modern-day saint, a wife, and a mother who worked outside of the home as a medical doctor. As a side note, she is depicted in one of our stained-glass windows in the church. She is holding her children and is with her husband. – What saint can each of us include in our daily prayer during the remainder of Advent and through the Christmas season?

Moreover, it is important to engage in connecting with others, including those that are alone so the presence of Christ is physically, as well as spiritually, present. – How can we make an extra effort to connect with others?  

Some ideas are taking extra time to visit neighbors, call, email, or write an old friend. Or perhaps each of us can make extra time to volunteer with an organization focused on those in need. 

Furthermore, for those with significant depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, reaching out to a counselor or other medical professional for treatment to promote symptom reduction and improvements is an important option.  

In closing, let us reflect on some sources of support during this time of year so beautifully reflected in our Catholic faith. First, scripture reminds us in Mark 6:31-32 that self-care is important, next an important doctrine of our faith teaches us of the communion of saints and reminds us we are not alone. In addition, we are reminded of the importance of service and giving back. All these actions connect us together and promote better mental and spiritual health. 

Stop me after Mass sometime and let me know how you are supporting your mental and spiritual health during the season of Advent and Christmas.  You can usually find me standing near my husband, Deacon Jeff, in the narthex.  I look forward to connecting with you.  

Some important reminders, if someone is suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns, I remind you to reach out to a mental health professional for support. If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, the suicide hotline is available 24/7 and provides free, confidential support for those in crisis. The number is 988.  

Remember, Mental Health Matters 

Peace,   

Author: Eileen Borski

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