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Is your Christmas missing its 'Merry'?
Christmas is supposed to be a happy time. But for some, it's not. If you're feeling less than 'Merry,' see if this helps. - photo by Wendy Jessen
Christmas is supposed to be a season of cheer, happiness, giving, magic and joy. The decorative lights, holiday concerts, neighbor gifts, aromas of baking and the excitement and thrill in children's eyes should be enough to fill you with holiday cheer.

However, for some people, the holidays can feel pretty dreary. There are various reasons you can feel a bit "Bah! Humbug!" during the most wonderful time of the year:

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD is a form of depression related to seasonal changes. According to the Mayo Clinic, "SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer."

If you think this sounds like you, consider talking to your doctor. Medical remedies may include light therapy or phototherapy, psychotherapy or antidepressant medications.

Some more natural remedies include getting an increase of sunshine by opening blinds or curtains and removing tree branches that may block the light from getting in; spending time outdoors walking, picnicking or doing other activities that will allow for more sunlight; getting adequate exercise, which will help reduce stress and anxiety and give your body endorphins to help boost your mood; taking a vitamin D supplement can also be helpful.

The holidays are linked to unpleasant memories.

Bad things happen every day, but those that happen around holidays can sometimes pack a bigger punch. Not only did a negative event happen, but now you may relate it to the nearest holiday. The death of a loved one, divorce, abuse, job loss or other tragedies can increase the stress around the holiday for many years after it happened.

In some cases, you may need to talk to a therapist to move past the bothersome feelings and memories. You can learn to separate the event from the holiday. Note that it's in the past and is not happening now. Find ways to heal from the past and replace it with good, happy memories.

Financial stress.

For many families, buying Christmas presents for family, friends and neighbors can place an extra burden and undue stress. It's not necessarily that we want to go "all out," but that we want to express our love for those in our lives.

Perhaps the best way to go about this is to simplify. Obviously, purchasing gifts for your children may be higher on the priority list, but where you can, make handmade gifts. Baked goods or even special notes of appreciation and love can be a great way to show you care without breaking the bank. Above all, there is no need to go overboard while spending money you don't have. Keep it simple.

When you're feeling less than cheery while everyone around you seems full of the hustle and bustle, figure out what is causing those feelings and decide what you can do to put the "Merry" back in your Christmas. Focus on what matters most peace, joy, love, family and friends and spend time reflecting on the birth and life of Jesus Christ. Don't let stress or other factors drag you down. Look for the goodness around you and find your own special way to spread joy.
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