| Peter Cook
The Blue Santa in the room
Why Christmas can be challenging for some people
Christmas is a happy time – or is it?
Unfortunately, the reality is that it is a sad and lonely time of year for many people. Not everyone is excited about the Christmas tree, the lights, or the family festivities.
For people struggling with anxiety, depression, or addiction, the pressure to be chatty, buzzy, and fun-loving is unforgiving. For them, there is literally a ‘blue’ Santa in the room. They can’t talk about it, but his shadowy presence is everywhere.
Why is this?
You can't avoid Christmas.
We all are prone to introspection this time of year.
Christmas is about ‘connecting’ and your relationship with others. We are bombarded with messages of happiness, indulgences, and connectivity. For someone who is missing these things, it can be tough.
Moreover, you can't avoid Christmas! Everyone expects something from you. It is no wonder that many people self-medicate with alcohol, food, shopping, or just being busy. It would help if you fit in, but you don't know how, or worse, you don't want to.
It is essential to have a clear plan of how you can help yourself during this time of year if you suffer from depression, active addiction, or if you are in the early stages of recovery.
A clear plan of action
First, it is worth remembering what can make a difference in reducing depression: your support system, exercise, meaningful work, good eating habits, and relaxation. If you can focus on these things, it is possible to get through the festive season. The only person who can decisively show the Blue Santa the door is you.
Here are some ideas to start you thinking:
- Keep gifts simple. There is no need to overspend or overcommit to do too much.
- If possible, don't be the host at a party. It puts unnecessary pressure on yourself. If it is unavoidable, ask your guests to help with bringing food and more. There is no need to be ashamed. Nobody is going to look out for you if you don't do so yourself.
- No rule says your house has to look like a Christmas ornament. Keep it simple.
- If you have mental health issues, it might be a good idea to work with your therapist or other professional and have an 'action plan' for this time of year. Discuss coping strategies, how you will replenish your energy, and how you can deal with an emergency.
- Keep a journal, meditate, and exercise!
It is not me; it is you.
Look out for these signs from your loved ones this Christmas if you suspect Christmas is not the best time of year for them.
- Is your family member avoiding social events or family gatherings?
- Is the person irrational and often angry?
- Look out for problems with sleeping and insomnia.
- Is the person working all the time? Or overeating? Or is there an over-reliance on exercise? It all can be signs that the person is struggling to cope.
Reach out and ask if your loved one needs support.
The blue Santa is real.
The worst thing you can do at this time of year is to tell someone else to 'get into the Christmas spirit' or to 'cheer up.' Remember, the blue Santa is genuine to this person and cannot just be swept under the carpet. The bulge of his big belly will still be there!
Offer support, listen to your loved one, and help him plan how he can cope this holiday season. Let him participate at his own level – in a way that is comfortable for the person. If it should mean that the person can be allowed to 'miss' some festivities, don't be afraid to suggest it.
It is brave to ask for help!
We are here for you. Feel free to reach out to Largest Heart this festive season. On this website, you’ll find a host of resources and telephone numbers that can help.
It can make a world of difference to look the blue Santa right in the eye and stop ignoring him.