Comfort Conversations: How Does Giving Help Defeat the Holiday Blues?
Feelings of sadness are different for everyone as is each individual’s reaction to those emotions. Sorrow during the holidays can stem from preexisting factors like pain, stress, or financial problems, but can also be heightened by feelings of loneliness or unrealistic expectations to buy gifts. Over-commercialization of the holiday can exacerbate symptoms and make them even harder to defeat.
According to Medicine.net, sadness or depression at holiday time can be a reaction to the stresses and demands of the season. In other cases, people may feel depressed during the winter months due to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also referred to as seasonal depression.
How Does Helping Others Help Ourselves?
People who suffer from depression often struggle with finding their purpose in life or feel they simply lack one. I was lucky to discover my purpose very quickly after my injury. While in outpatient rehabilitation a few months after being released from the hospital, I realized that resources and peer support for newly injured SCI patients were nearly non-existent. This, coupled with my newfound faith, prompted me to start a faith-based peer support ministry, Blessed with Life, and begin sharing my story. Every time I told my story, it felt like a part of me grew stronger, and every time I helped someone new with resources and peer support, their accomplishments became my accomplishments.
How to Give Money if You Don’t Have Much to Give?
When we talk about giving, people tend to think about money first. Financial donations are, after all, the easiest and most convenient way to help others. If you don’t have much money to give, you can also get involved with fundraisers for a local nonprofit. I am always creating fun ways to get active in the community by eating out, bowling, playing pool, or participating in a sport while raising funds for my nonprofit, Rolling With Me. These events help get others in my situation active and involved while raising funds for a great cause.
How Do You Give Back When You Feel You Have Nothing to Give?
Living with limited financial resources or physical ability is no excuse for not being able to give because giving doesn’t always have to involve money. Volunteering for a nonprofit organization, school, church, or library is a great way to meet new people and even open doors to potential employment opportunities. Volunteering keeps you active and involved, and those types of entities are always in need of extra help. It’s also awesome knowing you’re needed and appreciated.
How Do You Find Ways to Get Involved?
A great place to start is by asking yourself which causes you are passionate about and what you enjoy doing. After you answer those questions, you can then look for related organizations or businesses. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, that’s a perfect reason to start a program of your own. You can also propose your idea to an existing organization and partner with them. Another option is to get involved with a peer support group. Being around other people with similar challenges is empowering. You can lean on each other for help and grow the programs you’re interested in. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has a peer support directory so you can find a program near you!
If we let them, the holiday blues can be more paralyzing than our actual loss of mobility, and once those feelings start to spiral, they can be very difficult to overcome without professional help. I have struggled with depression my entire life and have even survived several suicide attempts pre- and post-injury. Today, it has been over five years since I have had any of those negative thoughts, primarily because I began to see how much my life impacted others in a positive way through all of my community involvement. I now embrace and feel empowered by the gratitude and joy I bring others.
If you’re experiencing the holiday blues or are battling depression and thoughts of suicide, please reach out to someone. There is no reason for you to feel lonely or be alone this holiday. Wheel:Life values and cares about you. Happy Holidays!
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Or, find a peer support group near you using our helpful reference guide!
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Note: The Comfort Conversations articles are for informational use only and are not intended to be construed as medical advice. Ask your doctor about issues related to your health and medical needs.
Comfort Medical Ambassador Margarita Elizondo is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, producer/host of Wheel Talk Wheel Issues, model, author and an ambassador for the Los Angeles Abilities Expo. She was paralyzed in 2006 after an intruder broke into her home. Now, a single mother of three and grandmother, she pursues a degree in Communication at Grossmont Community College and works for Axia Management where she designed a wireless phone service for seniors and individuals with disabilities. As Ms. Wheelchair California 2013, she is a strong advocate in the disability community and volunteers for numerous nonprofits. You can reach her on Facebook or through www.margaritaelizondo.com.