The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns sadness or depression. Christmas seems to cause depression in a lot of people and for a variety of reasons. One of my nephews is bi-polar and is affected by Christmas lights. Some people have lost loved ones recently. Other people do not have family or close friends. Still others have bad memories of Christmas.
I love Christmas with all its lights, decorations, music, shopping for presents, etc. I love being able to focus on Jesus Christ – His birth, ministry, and Atonement. However, I found myself in tears several days in the past week. It was definitely not the joy that we are supposed to feel at Christmas time. The most depressing part of the whole deal is that I could not figure out why I was so sad because there was no apparent reason for all my tears. I wondered if my sadness was a cause for concern or the result of the stress of living my life.
Most people have their times of feeling sad or depressed, particularly at times of loss or adversity. I found this site that has some information about depression. I learned that there is a difference between feeling sad or depressed and having clinical depression. If the sadness is intense and includes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, it may be more than sadness. If the feeling of sadness lasts many days and even weeks and keeps one from living a normal life, it might be clinical depression.
According to the DSM-5, a manual doctors use to diagnose mental disorders, you have depression when you have five or more of these symptoms for at least 2 weeks.
. A depressed mood during most of the day, especially in the morning.
. You feel tired or have a lack of energy almost every day.
. You feel worthless or guilty almost every day.
. You have a hard time focusing, remembering details, and making decisions.
. You can’t sleep or you sleep too much almost every day.
. You have almost no interest or pleasure in many activities nearly every day.
. You think often about death or suicide (not just a fear of death).
. You feel restless or slowed down.
. You’ve lost or gained weight.
I felt somewhat better after reading the above information. I may be in tears, but I do not have a mental illness. I do not feel helpless, hopeless, worthless, or guilty. I have had no suicidal thoughts. I have been able to pay bills and balance my checking account. I sleep just fine once I get into bed. I am gaining weight – a normal winter experience for me. However, my worst time did take place in the morning hours when I would shed buckets of tears.
I decided that the tears are the result of the need to release stress. I have taken my husband to a doctor’s appointment or a physical therapy appointment several times each week since mid-summer. We sometimes had four appointments in a week. At the same time I was attempting to do assignments for my class and take care of all the household chores. We traveled for a month and came home just before hosting two families at Thanksgiving dinner. Christmas preparations came at the same time as my finals. It is no wonder that I am stressed! As soon as my finals were over and Christmas packages were in the mail, the tears started.
I do not enjoy feeling so much sadness and especially for no apparent reason. I certainly do not like crying like a child. After all, I am a responsible adult! I decided to do a little more research to discover how I can avoid a repeat of this sadness, and I found this site that discusses ways to find joy in the journey of life. While reading the following six suggestions, I realized that I failed to do several of them.
. Enjoy the good times. When things are going well in your life, enjoy yourself. This is a time to build memories that will sustain you during difficulties. Capture these moments by taking pictures or writing in your journal….
. Nurture your relationships. Nothing has greater potential to make us happy than our relationships with others…. Nurture your relationships and build a good support system that will sustain you during adversity….
. Show gratitude. Gratitude is recognizing the abundance and blessings in your life, even in the midst of difficulties. It is appreciating the things that you have…. Expressing gratitude not only makes people happier, it can increase energy and improve health. In addition, grateful people are hopeful, empathetic, helpful and forgiving.
. Live in the moment. There are moments of joy in even the most painful times of life. Look for them….
. Embrace nature. Nature is good for our health and well-being. … spending time in nature can reduce blood pressure, anxiety and stress levels. It improves your sleep, increases your vigor and boosts your immune system.
. Exercise. Most of us know that regular exercise improves our health and helps us maintain a healthy weight. Exercise can also make us happier. … exercise lowers stress and anxiety, which lowers cortisol levels in the body. In addition, endorphins are released when you exercise. Endorphins stimulate the brain, reduce pain, lower stress and boost feelings of happiness.
I can rest assured that I am not mentally ill at this point. However, I realize that I must remember the good times, nurture relationships, express more gratitude, get out into nature, and exercise. These are all activities that I eliminated or shortened as the end of the semester and Christmas approached. Maybe I can avoid more tears by putting these activities back into my life.