1. Holiday Blues and the Sense of Belonging

    December 6, 2013

    Holiday Blues and the Sense of Belonging

    With Christmas just around the corner psychologists and therapists can expect working long hours. Why? Don’t we all perceive the holidays as being a happy and joyful time? Not necessarily. For some the holidays are not a joyous time due to an anxiety condition referred to as the holiday blues.

    If you are feeling sadness, anxiety, depression and low energy, for no apparent reason, you might be experiencing the holiday blues. This condition tends to be temporary and seasonal. It may effects men and women young and old.

    The holiday season may trigger sad memories. During the holidays, when families gather from far or nearby,   hidden or overt  conflict may arise.  Some families face conflicting decision about where and with whom to celebrate. Some are far apart. Some meet family members they’d rather not. All these reasons and more may lead people to feel sad, depressed and anxious during the holiday season. The good news is that those are all temporary conditions. Once the holidays are over, the intensity of these feelings usually disappear.

    Also, people who are not involved in a meaningful relationships, or are in an unhappy relationship, they may dread the holidays because they feel lonely. They might cope, and suppress their feelings until they observe the intense social activity around the holiday. which by large is joyous. Hence they face pain that is connected to an innate basic human need – the Need to Belong.

    If those words ring true to you and you are experiencing the Holiday Blues, your response is normal and you are not alone. Research indicates that the absence of sense of belonging serves as major predictor of depression.

    To preserve the humankind Nature “made sure” that we would feel an innate need to connect and to be in a relationship in order to maintain our physical safety and to feel the need to procreate.  Psychologists emphasize that “sense of belonging” is a key factor in a person’s mental well being. A great contribution to this concept made the psychologist, Abraham Maslow who formulated a Hierarchy of ten Needs, three out of these ten will be mention here. The first one is the physiological need for nutrition, water and oxygen without which humans cannot survive. The second need is for safety and security, which simply means the instinctive need to keep us alive, safe and free from harm. The third basic need is the need to love and belong. When physiological and safety needs are by and large taken care of, this third layer starts to manifest itself. We begin to pay attention to the need for family, friends, and the need for affectionate relationship in general. We feel the innate, instinctive need to belong. This need, or the absence of it, is strongly felt around the holiday season. People who are not involved in meaningful relationships or are in unhappy relationships, are susceptible to feel more lonely, depressed and anxious than they would normally feel during the year.


    Your mental system, mind, psyche – call it whatever you like – is signaling you that it does not get the nourishment it needs to preserve your emotional well being.

    It compels you to pay attention to some elements in your life that need adjustments, care, or change. These painful emotions, coming from your mental system, are comparable to the physical pain signals sent by your body when it is under distress. In both cases we need to take action to alleviate the pain, or else. . .

    Some of you may have noticed these feelings before, but thought that if you “just did not think about it” it might go away. You may be high functioning individual but nevertheless if you feel lonely, something is missing in your life. The signals from your mental system will persist, until you acknowledge their existence and take actions.

    To those of you who are involved in an unhappy relationship, time is not on your side. Fulfilling relationships require awareness and continuous nurturing. Look for self help books, relationship workshops or seek to couple’s counseling.  Some of you will be surprised to discover that given the suitable guidance, your relationship will take the desirable turn.

    If you are single and find it difficult to form or keep relationships, find out what is holding you back. Find out why you are hiding and sabotaging your own desires. See if you repeat the same relationship pattern and repeatedly attract the same partners. Raising awareness of your inner motives will guide you in making better choices. It is entirely in your hands to transform your life for the better.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60509459@N00/6585233675