Are you among the nearly 40% of folks who get depressed around the holidays? Loneliness, stress, anxiety can easily override peace and joy. And these feelings can seem compounded when we’re spiritual or religious. 

We think we should be able to transform those feelings, shake off the depression and navigate the holidays with lighthearted ease, grace and a peacefully presented prayer. Instead, our soothing spirituality can turn into a grinding guilt-factory, highlighting our failure to hold the happiness high watch.

Well-meaning and heart-felt advice offered on how to overcome depression often feels like metaphysical malpractice. More refreshing and practical are Mitch Horowitz’ insights in Depression and Metaphysics: What Helps? What Hurts? (available in video, audio, paperback and e-book from New Thought Classics). Excerpts from three of his seven strategies are below, to help you start your journey:

1. Escape cruel people. We are surrounded by troublemakers. People who derive a sense of prurient arousal from tormenting or running down other people. The worst are the subtle troublemakers. You must, must, must get away from them. It will fill your life with a sense of appropriate power. 

Read Fredrick Douglass’s story of his encounter with this cruel slave master, Covey. The crescendo is where he said, “Look, I was still enslaved, but I was free internally. And I knew it would only be a matter of time until I was free externally.”

We all have people we’d like to get away from, but for a variety of circumstances, we cannot physically or financially get away from them at a given time and place. But take that attitude of “I am going to be free from you internally” and hold to it like the word of God. 

Your relationship will change even though no words are said–and sometimes it’s much better that no words are said. The power dynamic shifts, silently but decisively. 

2. Take a D-Day approach. Dealing with depression, or any kind of emotional malady or suffering, one should throw everything at the problem. Have no limits. That can include psychopharmacology. 

I don’t want to see the new age stigmatize the use of prescription drugs. For some individuals these have wonderful effects. For some, they don’t. Some people don’t want to go down the path of drugs. That’s their choice. For other people, they’re lifesaving, and I don’t see them in any way running contradictory to the [spiritual] search.

I think that we use all kinds of drugs and devices all the time. Do you refuse Novocain or nitrous oxide when you go to the dentist? Most don’t. Would you discard your glasses? Of course not.

I don’t believe that [spiritual] modality should proscribe, limit, or stigmatize any treatment that holds out the possibility of succor and help for the individual. There are a vast number of people within the spiritual culture who very effectively combine a whole variety of pharmacological choices along with the spiritual search.

3. Engage in radical prayer. To [say] you have to pray in a state of calm expectancy, when frantic, is to not give any outlet to the Divine, at all. You must be able to make an appeal from whatever state you’re in. 

I’ll put it plain. That can mean begging. That can mean falling to your knees and making a demand. And why not? How do you know you won’t get exactly what you need? 

Anything that arouses the spiritual energies can serve that role. In the HBO Series, The Young Pope, Jude Law had a style of prayer in which he made demands to God. There’s one scene where he’s praying and he says to God, “You must. You must. You must,” and I thought to myself, “Who’s to say that’s not a legitimate form of prayer?” The character was speaking from the depths of emotion.

All I’m trying to say is, there are simply times where the ‘happy thoughts’ prescription does not work, and is not called for, and is not available to [the] suffering individual. 

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There you have it…. Three radical strategies for eradicating your holiday blues this season. Every time you feel stressed, anxious our depressed, honor yourself and take a step that resonates with you.