There was a time in our country when the leaves changed colors and the air turned chilly we knew November was upon us. Thanksgiving was the celebrated event and we tried to build gratitude and appreciation into our lives. Well, this week is Thanksgiving, but, the focus really has been turned towards “Black Friday” and revving up our retail energy for the Christmas season. Sadly, we have really just skipped through this holiday and treated it as a smorgasbord of over consuming food, 24 hour football viewing, and frenzied shopping! Yes, I too am guilty of all of the above. What has happened to appreciating this once great holiday of truly giving thanks Where has our “Attitude of Gratitude” gone?
From a psychological viewpoint, gratitude serves to really bring people closer to a like minded and more socially interconnected state of togetherness. Naturally, we feel more socially connected and supported which in turn the relationship becomes stronger and develops. Also, I suggest that we consider gratitude not as a tool, or strategy to be used for ulterior motives, but, it is a more profound appreciation for what we do have.
From a young age, I was taught to live in Thanksgiving daily and to show appreciation for what others did for me. If you think about it, gratitude is the act of being thankful, it causes the human soul to become humble. It’s because we acknowledge these acts of kindness, times of selfless service, or caring from someone else who lifts our heavy heart and strengthens us.
Gratitude is not a public display, but rather in a quiet way, the expression and feelings that create in us a type of purification and mental healing from our life’s troubles and concerns. Some say the gratitude is the mother of virtue. Wasn’t it Shakespeare that said, “Who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”
I’m of the opinion, that the commemoration of Thanksgiving should last all year. As we approach Thanksgiving week 2015, maybe we should do a little homework (I know the kids are out of school) on this idea by really reflecting on what we should be thankful for in our lives.
So much chaos in the world, yet, on the lighter side, do you realize that Thanksgiving is just a little bit over a week away. Then Hanukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are less than a month after that new shopping phenomenon call “Black Friday.” Yes, this truly is the season of giving thanks, spreading cheer, joining with friends and family in seasonal bliss.
However, this is also the time of year that my practice becomes very busy with overwhelmed and depressed clients. Why aren’t they out there enjoying the holiday season? Simply put, it’s the pressure, unrealistic expectations and seasonal blues that get in the way of the enjoyment.
Every year without fail, millions of us pull out the ornaments, prop up the trees, climb up the ladders to hang up the lights, roll out reindeers on the lawn (you know who you are). Let’s not forget the annual family letters that are written (still), cookies baked by the dozens and dozens, gingerbread houses artfully decorated with the kiddos. Then there are all the choirs, school, church and community festivities…oh my!
We are a busy society, did I forget to mention running around searching for this year’s must have gift! What about family visitors for the holidays, cleaning the house, buying all the food and having the carpets cleaned (and the dog needs to be groomed too). You see… seasonal blues!
If we don’t do it all we feel guilty. We look out the window at the neighbor’s house, their lights are up the minute the Thanksgiving turkey was finished. These feeling create anxiety which in turn fuel what we call Seasonal Affective Disorder which is appropriately referred to as SAD This is characterized by apathy and a general feeling of lethargy. Yes, then comes the insatiable cravings for sweets (more brownies and fudge please) any carbohydrates will do! Naturally, your sleep becomes more excessive, concentration falls off, as does being able to collect your thoughts and sustain meaningful conversation.
All these symptoms lead you eventually to feeling sad, low and depressed. I find that for many of my clients the real triggers seem to centered on their present financial circumstances, or memories of holidays past compared with their sadness of the present season.
As we get closer to New Years, I see new clients who really have unraveled as they struggle with unrealized goals and too many opportunities never taken advantage of, so, their depression spirals. The good news is that all is not lost. The sun is a great disinfectant, tools can be learned that will help you cope and work through the seasonal depression. Therapy is a wonderful way to talk through your concerns and really get to the heart of your problems. So, don’t let the pain take away your holiday cheer this year, get help, and enjoy you!