Roy Exum: It’s Time – Get Ready For The Holidays

Thursday, November 16, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

One week from today not everyone in the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving.  There is an abundance of people – perhaps in your own family or in your Sunday School class – who wish there was no Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s Eve. For those who struggle with depression and other mental disorders, festive holidays are awful.

You see, people like me watch as our dearest friends relish in giving thanks, awaiting the day Christ was born in a manger, and greeting the New Year with delight but it’s tough for us to feel any of that. It’s as though your soul is empty. When I was growing up we always had at least 50 people to celebrate Thanksgiving. My little sister would dress up like Pocahontas, my younger brothers like pilgrims and somebody would bang out “We Gather Together to Sing the Lord’s blessings” on the piano.

Now there is only me.

Whoa, don’t worry! I’ll be well taken care of as I will spend next Thursday with those I deeply love – my day is set -- and, before that, I’ll make out a list of “Why I Am Thankful” that is a singular treat for me every year. But I use myself as an example for this reason – If I fail to plan, I plan to fail. You or your loved ones can put on the same armor.

This is to say if I prepare myself beforehand for the stress, and the loneliness, and use my glorious memories for warmth and joy rather than for longing and sorrow, I can cope just fine. I am a master at avoiding “the black dog,” as Winston Churchill called his depression, but some of my friends have a tough time and we can’t have that.

So now is the time to establish a plan.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) knows that those who are even mildly depressed can avoid the pitfalls by preparing themselves for the holidays. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America offers these ideas to consider:

* -- Cope ahead. Prepare for worst-case scenarios at work or family gatherings. Decide in advance how long you’ll stay and stick to your plan.

* -- Balance activities. Try to spend some time with others as well as time alone.

* -- Find meaning. Ask yourself what you appreciate most about the holidays and make sure you focus on it.

* -- Manage your environment. Choose people and places that add to your overall well-being rather than deplete or challenge it. Consider attending counseling or support groups. Regular exposure to bright light, particularly fluorescent light, can help prevent or improve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

* -- Take care of you. Avoid mood-altering substances, take medications as prescribed, connect with others, rest, and find enjoyment in your activities.

* * *

Sheri Pruitt is a psychologist in California who has authored about 50 professional publications in the areas of behavioral medicine and health psychology. She is considered as an expert on the “holiday blues” and here’s her take on managing them:

“The holidays are a time of joy for most people. However, holiday time can also mean a bout of the "blues." Here are some tips that should help:

* -- Set realistic expectations for the holidays. As special as they are, they will not erase all of your past problems.

* -- Remember that it's okay not to feel festive all of the time. If you are feeling down, just let others know.

* -- Take some time for yourself. Plan activities that you enjoy, and spend time with family or close friends.

* -- Be sure to get plenty of sleep, eat healthy meals, stay active, and limit your intake of alcohol.

What if someone you love has the blues?

* -- Try to involve that person in holiday activities, but don't be forceful.

* -- Be a good listener. Remember that the holidays can be a tough time for some people, and letting them talk about it may be all they need.

The good news is that, for most people, holiday blues are temporary. However for some people, the holidays can bring on the more serious condition of clinical depression. If you or someone you know doesn't shake the blues after a few weeks, it's time to talk with your doctor.

* * *

Once again: If you fail to plan for the holidays, you plan to fail.

royexum@aol.com



Re-elect Joe Graham

Early voting time is here again and our choices couldn’t be more important.  It’s an easy choice though for the voters in Hamilton County District 6.  Joe Graham is the obvious choice.  I’ve known Joe for over 40 years.  I grew up with him.  He was a few years behind me at Lookout Valley High School but even then, I could tell there was something special ... (click for more)

Party Problems In The 30th District House Race

Watching the 30th district house race is very interesting.  It is normal that the front runner in an election can expect some attacks.  However, the vicious attacks that Ms. Helton is facing is unprecedented in my opinion.  Both of these candidates are in the same party.  I was under the impression that party leaders were the ones that challenged a candidate’s ... (click for more)

Red Bank Approves Short Term Vacation Rental Ordinance On Final Reading

The Red Bank Commission passed an ordinance Tuesday night on second and final reading that regulates short term rentals within the city. "Our hands have been tied because of state law," said Mayor John Roberts. Many residents, both for and against allowing these rentals, have come to recent commission meetings appealing to the commissioners for their side of the issue, ... (click for more)

Firefighters Battle 2-Alarm Fire On Workman Road Tuesday Morning

Chattanooga firefighters were dispatched at 6:03 a.m. on Tuesday, to a commercial fire at 400 Workman Road. When the first firefighters arrived on the scene, flames were shooting through the roof and the request was immediately made for a second alarm response. The flames could be seen for miles as a total of 13 fire companies rushed to the scene. The large, two-story ... (click for more)

English, Ex-East Hamilton Coach, Hired To Lead Whites Creek Boys' Hoops Team

Rodney English, former boys’ basketball coach at East Hamilton, recently was named to a similar job at Whites Creek High School in Nashville. The move was made public Monday when English’s name appeared on the official Whites Creek school directory that is annually submitted to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. The hiring of English at Whites Creek was also ... (click for more)

Vols' Nigel Warrior Named To Bednarik Award Watch List

Tennessee junior defensive back  Nigel Warrior  has been named to the 2018 Bednarik Award Watch List. Warrior is the first Vol to be named to the Bednarik Watch list since the defensive trio of Derek Barnett, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Cameron Sutton were named to the Bednarik's preliminary list in 2016.   Warrior totaled 83 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss ... (click for more)