Don’t let the holiday season drag you down

It was so long ago that it seems like another lifetime—but I vaguely remember teaching high school English and business for four years in Kitchener, Ont.
However, I still remember the students nostalgically, even though I haven’t seen most of them for many years.
While I remember the students very well, I’m less clear about what I taught them. But one thing stands out in my mind.
At that time, the Ontario sophomore English classes studied Greek mythology for two months. Many of the myths were new to me and I found them very interesting.
By now, many have been forgotten, but one is unforgettable—the myth of Persephone.
Persephone was the daughter of Zeus, father of the gods, and Demeter, goddess of the earth and agriculture. Unfortunately, Hades fell in love with the beautiful Persephone and wanted to marry her.
Zeus gave his consent, but Demeter didn’t. So, Hades abducted Persephone and carried her off to the underworld.
Demeter was so upset that she wandered the earth searching for her daughter. Without the goddess of agriculture, there was a terrible famine.
Finally, Zeus sent Hermes, the messenger of the gods, to bring Persephone back home. Before Persephone left, Hades tricked her into eating three pomegranate seeds—the food of the dead.
As a result, she was compelled to return to the underworld for three months of the year.
Each fall when Persephone has to leave, Demeter gets so depressed that nothing grows. Thus, the Greeks explained the darkness and fruitlessness of winter.
Now, 2,500 years later, the myth of Persephone reminds us of the perpetual cycles of the seasons. And the dark and fruitless winter is still with us.
Fortunately, the holiday season brightens our lives—first Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and finally New Year’s Day.
We feast and frolic. We give gifts and decorate. We have parties with our friends and fun with our families.
It should be the happiest season of all. And it is for most people, but not for everyone. Feelings of sadness and depression are so common during the holidays, that there’s a name for it—the “Holiday Blues.”
There are multiple reasons why people have the Holiday Blues. In the first place, it’s easy to get a little depressed as the days shorten and grow colder.
Jill RachBeisel, of the University of Maryland, says another reason is that people recall ideal holidays from years ago and aren’t able to reproduce them.
Also, as we get older, we have many losses—the death of a spouse or a close friend, friends moving away to be near their children, and declining health.
It could be easy to give in and get a little “blue” when everyone else is festive. But you can’t afford it!
So take charge of your own holidays. If you don’t have the energy to prepare an elegant dinner, plan a potluck. If it is too painful to walk in the malls, shop locally or online.
If your children live too far away, go to a restaurant with friends.
Most important of all, don’t ignore your health. Keep up your regular exercise regime. Get plenty of rest and keep the sweets to a minimum!
And whatever you do, don’t let the happiest part of the year get you down.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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