Don't battle holiday "blues" alone

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Col.) Brian Hunter
  • Eglin Air Force Base Chapel
We often hear the winter season is a time to "be of good cheer" -- we are "supposed to" feel happy during the holiday season.

However, the holidays don't have to be "perfect" like we may recall from years past.

Sometimes the holidays can remind us of past losses or undesired changes in our lives. This may cause us to wonder what is wrong but I assure you, these feelings of sadness are often normal.

Despite our best efforts, we may feel sad or anxious. Sometimes we may have trouble sleeping, feel unmotivated, be irritable, or feel a sense of hopelessness. If those symptoms persist, it is important to talk to someone about it.

There are many base resources, among them, our base chaplains, who provide a caring, non-judgment ear, and can help find a pathway through the temporary fog of life.

We are here to provide that reassurance that you are not alone, being reinforced as a person who is valued, knowing there is someone you can turn to in time of need. There are many "ointments" we can apply when we are feeling isolated or lonely, and it doesn't take a scientific study to convince us that surrounding ourselves with people who care about us can have a positive effect on our emotional well-being.

While there are many suggestions for the holiday "blues," I would be remiss if I didn't mention "spirituality". Spirituality has many definitions, but basically it gives our lives context. It explores our connection with ourselves, with others and the development of our personal value system as we search for meaning in life.

Spirituality also has many benefits for overall emotional health. It helps us feel a sense of purpose, that we are part of something larger, it inspires us and gives us a new hope for the future. Perhaps it also assists us in coming to the realization that we don't have to have all the answers and we don't have to go about it alone. It can help us discern our proudest achievements, identify the most important people in our lives, and particularly those who have helped define us as a person.

Of course, for many, spirituality takes the form of religious observance, prayer or belief in a higher power, but for others it can be found in nature, music, art of community and social networks. But spirituality is not necessarily connected to a specific belief system or religious worship.

Remember that the feelings of sadness during the holiday season are not permanent. Nothing remains the same forever, and just as the days get longer and brighter as spring approaches, our perspective on life and the moods associated with them can get better as well.

If whatever is on your heart and mind is more than you think you can deal with, remember there are always people who care that you can call upon.