Ahh, Thanksgiving. We are all supposed to be waiting with anticipation for the smell of roast turkey, cranberry relish and gravy, the wonderful stuffing, the yams, the mashed potatoes, the pumpkin pie or the pecan pie, the homemade whipped cream, the Brussels sprouts, and the corn bread… And of course, the post-dinner deliriousness that leads most of us to a much-needed nap on the couch or for others, a walk around the block.
How about the day after? What is more delicious than remainders of turkey smothered in the last two spoonfuls of cranberry relish and gravy? And, what could be better than to sit down with such a wonderful meal of leftovers and the remote control, surrounded by loved ones ready to watch a little football or any show that evokes mindless delight?
If only Thanksgiving could always be like that. Thanksgiving can be hard. Holidays are hard. Yes, they are reminders of the importance of family traditions, and the gratitude for which we need to show for what we Americans have been given that many others around the world have not. But, it is also a time when malaise suddenly sneaks up like a marine layer of fog.
At this time of year, my office is most frequented by new clients who present the very same complaints: sleeplessness, irritability, and fatigue. They all seem pretty perplexed by their very symptoms. For example, I will often hear something like this:
“I never thought I would find myself in a therapist’s office but, I feel…I don’t know…I should be happy. But I am not feeling great.”
Here is where I step in and remind my clients that not only do the shorter, colder days take a toll on one’s spirits (even on those who live in places where the weather is clement), we’re in the midst of the season when we are supposed to celebrate the holidays that often trigger feelings of stress surrounding the ideas of being (or not) with family members, spending too much money on gifts, and/or not being romantically involved with the love of one’s life.
So, if you are wondering why you have been feeling a little “off” or blue, it could be the anticipation of Thanksgiving and the holidays that follow quickly thereafter.
Just take a deep breath and realize that you are not alone.