The Digital Self

Exploring the complications, conveniences, and conflicts that technology presents in personal and professional relationships.

Holiday Blues? Click them away.

Your holiday spirit is just a click away.

For many, the holidays are  a joyous time  marked  by a whirlwind of holiday parties, shopping, family and travel.     For others,  the opposite is true, isolation, frustration and loneliness predominate the season.   In the holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey embodied the broken hearted during the holidays and saw suicide as his only option to escape his despair and disillusionment.     Fortunately for him, Clarence, his guardian angel intervened and helped him see his life from another perspective.   Luckily life does not imitate art when it comes to suicide and the holidays, research has proven that while the holidays can be a difficult time for many, it is more a myth than reality that  people choose suicide to deal with holiday depression.  Like George Bailey, people experiencing difficulty during the season sometimes need a little help to get them through.  Depending on the degree in which the “ holiday blues” hit you, you should consider calling upon your Digital Self to carry you through the season. 

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From Thanksgiving to New Years, the holiday season is peppered by parties.   There certainly  is no shortage of eggnog, mistletoe, drunken Santas, and cheer---- lots of it.   If you are in need of a traditional holiday fix but find your inbox short on invitations or if a season infused with games of Scrabble, wine tasting, theatre events, vegetarian dinners, pet mixers, hiking, poetry readings, sports watching,  tango (and just about anything else you can imagine)  are more your speed, then check out Meetup.com.

Meetup advertises itself to be the world’s largest network of local groups according to their website,  Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities. Meetup's mission is to revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.  

If boredom or feeling a bit disconnected from others are the source of your blues,  Meetup is a great online resource that will allow you to find opportunities to play offline and engage in activities with others who share your interests. Feeling isolated and lonely doesn’t mean your behavior must follow suit.   Certainly, if you have a case of the “light” blues, it would benefit you to challenge yourself to push through and find activities and connect with others.  The effort and success of doing something may be just what you need to turn your holiday season around. 

Do you find that your holiday blues  more resemble a dark shade of green? If anger and frustration predominate your holiday season, it may be time to come down from the mountain top Mr. Grinch and discover your holiday spirit.   Anger often causes us to withhold and turn our frustrations inward, which certainly will only exacerbate and contribute to depressed mood.   During the holiday season, you may be isolated and lonely in part because you have withdrawn from the season resigned to your anger.   I have heard many people reflect that the over-commercialization of the holiday, financial stresses, the poor 

economy, etc. all contribute to a rising frustration that makes people just want to check out from holidays and avoid participating all together.   Many feel they can’t compete, it's too much work and they just want the game to end.       What better way to challenge all of those beliefs by channeling that anger into action?   Focus on the spirit of giving---not stuff, but your time and talents.  Volunteer.   

If you allow your Digital Self to visit VolunteerMatch.orgyou will find a very easy tool for finding volunteer opportunities in your area.   VolunteerMatch brings people together and strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. VolunteerMatch welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become an internet recruiting tool for more than 75,000 nonprofit organizations.  Find the holiday spirit if the holiday sprit has alluded you and take some time to give back to people who need more help and who are in a far darker place than yourself.   In the end, just like the Grinch, you will likely feel less depression and anger.    You know what they say… ‘tis better to give than receive. 

For those who are bruised black and blue by the holiday season and see only a long winter’s nap as the solution to the surviving the season, the idea of socializing or mustering the energy to volunteer, may be unrealistic.   If you are depressed over the holidays and need support, the Internet can be a very useful resource in more ways than one.   To find online support groups for a variety of mental health and physical issues check out: supportgroups.com, dailystrength.org, psychcentral.com and webmd.com, suicidehotline.com.  Online support groups such as these and message boards can help you feel connected to others and comforted when you are struggling.   Just knowing you are not alone and have a place to express your concerns and feelings to others, ask questions, and offer insights is a valuable and easy resource that can make your holiday season brighter.

For those who can’t be with friends or family over the holidays but want to connect with loved ones---have you explored Skype or video conferencing to enhance your experience?  More and more people are taking advantage of the ability to see and speak to loved ones freely across the miles.   With video capability, you can really be a part of the action as it is happening.   You may have to set your alarm for 4:30 in the morning to see your grandchildren attack the presents under the tree, but it is possible! This technology really revolutionizes how easily we can communicate live and in person anywhere and anytime with anyone who has a web cam and internet access.  

If you are struggling with depression, lack of energy, and isolation, let your Digital Self take the reigns and guide your sleigh through the blizzard of this holiday season. 

 

Brett P. Kennedy, Psy.D., has a private practice in New York where he provides psychotherapy to adults and couples.

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