Holiday blues — in fact, any blues — can have their root in any number of life-changing experiences such as the death of a spouse or loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job or reduced economic circumstances, a move to a new community, an illness or some other family issue.
Terry Stevens, director of Cenpatico of Arizona, which oversees Southwest Behavioral Health, offered some helpful advice on how to cope with the difficulties some people may face during the holiday season.
“Adults might give some thought of talking with others who might be experiencing what they are going through, or who have experienced it in the past,” Stevens said.
Several groups recently presented programs on surviving the holidays following such things as a divorce, the loss of a spouse or child, and the loss of someone to suicide. Some of these groups also have regular meetings.
New Hope Grief Support Group — This group is for those who have lost a spouse. It meets from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway, Payson. For more information, call (928) 472-9290.
A bereaved parents support group — The Compassionate Friends — offers hope, reassurance and a safe place to talk about children who have been lost with others who understand the pain. Anyone who has lost a child (or grandchild) at any time, at any age is welcome to attend. The group meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at 102 W. Roundup, Suite D. For more information, call Bill Knauss at (928) 978-1492 or visit the Web site: www.rimcountrytcf.org.
Lost Loves — This is a new support group for adults who have lost a loved one through suicide, meets on the first and third Thursdays of each month. Adults suffering from such a loss are welcome to attend the group sessions, which are free of charge.
A professional counselor, who is also a survivor of a loss to suicide, facilitates the group. A nonprofit organization, Lost Loves is currently scheduled to meet at the Senior Circle, 215 N. Beeline Highway, Payson. Contact Elizabeth at (928) 468-2133 for more information.
Stevens said another way to deal with blues is to start new traditions for yourself and your family. Traditions help keep people connected through the years for generations. But what happens when those traditions no longer work? Circumstances, budgets and tastes change, requiring a fresh look at new ways to celebrate.
In fact, a major life change — such as marriage or a new baby — is the most popular reason, with a change in financial situation coming in a close second.
No matter your reason, you can easily evolve your traditions into something that works for your entire family. For example:
• Try switching up those big celebratory menus by swapping the traditional day-long cooking marathon for a night out. Or incorporate a family volunteer outing into your plans, such as working at the local food bank.
• Give in a new way. Giving and receiving gifts has long been a beloved tradition, but what if you took all that energy and money, and spent it on shared experiences with your friends and family instead? Whether it’s a trip, a play, concert or a fun class, show your appreciation for each other by spending quality time together. Plan a day to do something together with friends and family — volunteer, enjoy a winter sport or host a more casual party.
• Make memories with a new tradition, such as “Pie Night” where each guest bakes their own pie to bring to the party for a taste test. Everyone samples a piece of each pie and then award the “Most Delicious,” “Most Festive” and “Most Fattening” titles in a ceremony.
• Movie marathons or video game tournaments are fun for those winter nights when you can’t bear to go outside and face the cold.
• Give back to your community. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Visit area nursing homes and senior centers and see what you might do to brighten the dreary days of winter for the patients and center members. Organize a food drive for your local food bank. There are a lot of ways you and your family can help others.
“Just taking time to sit and play cards or games all day with your children is a great gift,” said Stevens. “There are many things to do that don’t cost a lot of money.”