It’s well known that during Christmas time there are increased rates of depression, suicide and suicide attempts. If this is to be a season of joy why is there so much bad cheer?
Causes of Christmas Depression
During the holidays is there is simply too much to be done. Shopping, planning for gatherings and preparing for the year’s end all heap hours of extra work onto our already busy lives.
Others see Christmas as a season of loss. For example, you might have lost a loved one in the past during the holidays. Or it could be that you don’t have fond memories because, as a child, Christmas was a time of sadness in your home. Others who are alone feel even lonelier since this is a time to gather with loved ones.
Finally, the year’s end is often a time to reflect on how things are going in our life. And if things aren’t going well, you can fall into depression.
How to cope with Christmas Depression
Later, we will discuss how your faith makes the biggest impact of all. But here are some practical tips that can help:
- Buy gifts in batches. For example, scented candles are nice gifts you can buy in bulk.
- Set limits on shopping and spending. Remember, you can’t buy love.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no” to invitations. Or feel free to leave the party early.
- Write down your reasons for being depressed. Setting it down on paper can be liberating.
- Drink and eat less. Alcohol is a chemical depressant.
- Find time for yourself to recover from the chaos.
Perhaps during this time of year, prayer is more important than ever. The busy pace and frequent parties can all lead to temptations, even the temptation to be sad. Some fall into the trap of getting into family arguments since everyone is so stressed out. Time in prayer will keep you centered in the holiday storm.
The holidays put tremendous pressure on us to perform. We have to look good and put on a happy face. So how does our faith get us through this? Think about the parable of the wedding banquet. Many were invited to the king’s party, but one entered without the proper dress. When this person was discovered, he was tied up and thrown out into the darkness. Seems kind of harsh for a merciful God, doesn’t it?
The Meaning of the Parable of the Great Banquet
When the world celebrates Christmas, the pressure of society looks to distract us from the essence of the holiday. Why? Because it’s good business. But if we go into the party without the proper dress, then we too risk getting thrown out. So we end up feeling depressed or anxious, because we look for something in a worldly celebration that only God can give us.
The proper attire for God’s banquet is the clothing of repentance and acceptance. Now you might be saying to yourself, “Before I was just a little depressed, now you’ve really made me sad.” The reason for this emphasis isn’t to put you down, but rather to raise up God’s Son in glory.
If we look to the holiday celebration only for a reason to “feel good” we will always be disappointed. When we forget the essence we try to feed on something that can’t give us life.
Don’t deny the Son
You see, if we deny our sin, we deny Christ. He came to forgive us and save us. That was, and is, his main mission. So even though we must strive to do good, the first step is recognizing our sin and the great forgiveness of God. This gives everything, especially Christmas, its meaning.
If you are sad or depressed, remember this. The more you suffer and the more you have sinned – all this gives you even greater access to God’s mercy. In the Book of Matthew, Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So it’s not a matter of values, conduct or appearances. It’s a matter of the heart. Have you given your heart to Jesus? He certainly gives all his heart to you.
It’s all for you and for His glory
The first Christmas was truly sacred. In humility, a child was born in the stillness of the night. This child was destined to give his life for you. When you feel the holiday pressure, let Jesus put everything in perspective. His truth cleans and heals you of past hurt and loss. Strength and hope are yours as you navigate a world offering peace in all the wrong places.
Remember who Jesus is. Remember what he did for you. Go back to the manger; go back the basics of your faith to pull yourself out of the holiday blues. Christmas is a great celebration for reasons that completely transcend our earthly senses. Rise above it all. Rise up with Christ. He alone clothes you in the right attire.
Then step into the banquet; clean and whole with confidence before God. Jesus himself will acknowledge your name before his Father in heaven.
Image source (modified).