Categories
Relationships

What To Do For Wedding Bell Blues

William and Kate got married April 29, 2011, and you have the wedding bell blues? You’re not alone. Even if you don’t want to tie the knot (or schedule a joining ceremony) just yet, you might be thinking about what it is that you’re not seeing, thinking, or experiencing that has been holding your love life in an arrested state of development.

Are you ready to get married?

At Seattle Direct Counseling, I am an advocate of involving others, including a trusted therapist and other mentors and close friends into the process of pre-engagement counseling. This is a discussion around the reasonableness, viability, and challenges involved in a decision to make that life commitment to someone. As broken engagements become more common, we should also expect a rise in requests for pre-engagement counseling. But alas, it seems like most people are still dashing head-long into marriage without considering a stepped process into creating a sustainable relationship.

As you make plans for the summer, perhaps your thoughts are turning to vacation, travel, and activity that requires more than yourself to enjoy. If you’re single, who will you take? If you’re in a relationship, how do you cultivate a close but nurturing connection that makes you look forward to time together instead of worrying about getting along? Now is the time to look into pepping it up, pimping it out, and improving your relationship so that you’re both getting the most out of it.

My friends Barby and Miguel of Twitter site @SparkzAgain are creating their website to help couples keep and maintain the sparks of love necessary to keep the fires burning in a committed relationship. When you see how much is involved either pre or post wedding, perhaps it will help you take inventory on what it takes to be a good partner with someone you care about.

And what if you do want to get married, but you’re in a relationship where your partner does not (or cannot, for whatever reasons)? I highly recommend the book, “Unmarried To Each Other” by Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller. This essential guide helps couples consider all their options, including marriage, living together, life partnership without marriage (but not living together), and other non-traditional arrangements. Ever wanted to break away from the wedding bell blues? Read this guide to consider why there may be reasons you and your sweetie may not wish to get married yet wish to stay together, whether that be short-term or for the long haul.

You might have wedding bell blues during the season when wedding announcements abound, but remember, everything comes in its time and season. Determining who, if, and when is more important than racing to the altar for an “I do.” You’ll be more likely to avoid the painful possibility of hearing an “I don’t” down the line.

Categories
Depression Holiday self-care

How To Avoid The Holiday Blues

As a therapist for ten years, you could say that I am an “expert” at noticing patterns of behavior in people. Now that we’re in the middle of the holiday trio (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day), it is not uncommon to hear my clients talk about something I refer to as, “The Holiday Blues”.  In fact, it is such a common phenomenon, it ought to have its own hashtag on Twitter!  If you know you get a bit depressed, cranky, and stressed around this time of year, this is the article for you.

What are the Holiday Blues? The signs and symptoms mimic a situational depressed mood: feelings of stress or panic, fatigue, changes in appetite, withdrawal from friends and family, feelings of sadness and loss, unexplained over-responsive anger, loneliness, and insomnia. With the depressed mood can be some mixed anxiety from the stress that may be present around holiday times.

Do holidays give you the blues?

Rx For The Holiday Blues. Too bad there isn’t a pill you can take to treat HB symptoms. But there are a few things you can do that will likely reduce the depressed feelings mixed with anxiety.

1. Schedule “down time”  for yourself. Do not pack your schedule too tightly. Let your mind rest instead of forcing it to dash around as you carry it here and there. My pick: do a some light yoga stretches, take a hot bath, listen to quiet music.

2. Prepare for family visits with some encouraging but realistic  self-talk. Lower your expectations, and avoid highly charged conversations where shameful and embarrassing situations may emerge. Aim for one meaningful moment per day with them, where you make a note to yourself to enjoy something about being together.

3. If the holidays mean eating large quantities of sugar and fat, plan accordingly so you don’t experience the associated mood swings. Increase your water intake, and include activities away from the restaurant and the kitchen. Taking a a walk after a meal can be a way to get a little movement in.

4. Watch your spending, and physically record your spending somewhere you can see to avoid credit card bill shock mid-January. Many people turn to retail therapy to feel good, or we simply lose track of the added expenses of gift giving and holiday partying. Create a budget, and do not give yourself excuses to break that budget in a way that will put needless stress on you during the following billing cycle.

5. Give yourself permission to acknowledge losses and change. The family may have lost or gained new members, or the holidays might remind you how time continues to march on regardless of your best efforts to remain still.  You might need time to grieve, cry, or laugh hysterically over those changes. Both laughter and tears can be therapeutic.

What I’m describing here is congruency of feeling and expression. Repressed emotions can emerge during highly stressful times when we feel the expectations of others. While it’s good to know exactly how you feel when these emotions emerge, they don’t always come up at a time it’s appropriate to share them with someone else. Find healthy ways to express those emotions: record them in a journal, share with a trusted friend, take a walk by yourself, scream in your car, or talk to a therapist.

6. The Holiday Blues can also be associated with the lack of sunlight if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. I’ve posted information about this in my article about Vitamin D and sunlight.  Vacation time in a sunny place, UV light exposure, or a special light box made to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder can help lift the winter blahs.

Note: if you’re having more than occasional thoughts about harming yourself or taking your life, put a plan in place to help you feel safe. Call a friend, talk to a crisis line counselor, or call your therapist. You do not have to face this alone.

This year, you don’t have to be out with the Holiday Blues. If you have suggestions for how you beat the Holiday Blues, please submit your comments here, or send them to imei.hsu@gmail.com and I’ll reprint them anonymously.