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GIBBS: Avoiding the Holiday Blues

So true.

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The six weeks encompassing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s—collectively called “the holidays”—are for most, a magically unique time of year, filled with holiday carols, reunions, displays of colorful lights, love, and affection, often expressed through gift giving.

For the better part of 2020, we have all been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the stresses brought on by racial tensions, and the political dramas of the 2020 election. Now, we have to make hard decisions on whether to gather with our loved ones for the holidays, or continue to socially distance from them until we get the all clear.

For some, the holidays bring hurt. Caused by factors such as those already mentioned, along with the weather (seasonal depression); extended separation, death, financial stress, unemployment, unrealistic expectations, hyper-sentimentality, guilt, or overspending. Holiday depression—also called the “holiday blues”—can zap the merriment out of even the most wonderful time of the year. Now, one must make hard decisions on whether to visit, whom to visit, and how to prepare for the visit—such as getting a COVID-19 screen prior to the visit.

The “holiday blues” only seem to get worse as we near the end of the year.

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Holiday depression affects one million people every year. Men and women, young and old, all fall victim to feelings of sadness, loneliness, anxiety, guilt, and fatigue during this emotionally charged time.

Men’s Health Network offers the following 10 suggestions to help you identify and ward off—or at least better cope with—potential sources of holiday depression.

1. Acknowledge that you’re hurting. Others may expect certain attitudes and behaviors from you that you may not feel. The retail industry’s “holiday hype” presents an overly sentimental, nostalgic, and even imaginary notion of the holidays (usually to try to sell you something). Sill, feelings of sadness, loneliness, or depression don’t automatically vanish just because it’s the holidays. Acknowledge your pain, be open and honest with others, refuse to feel guilty, and get help if necessary. It’s ok to laugh! Don’t be afraid! You won’t be struck by a bolt of lightning for laughing. Remember, a closed mouth won’t get fed.

2. Have a plan to deal with your feelings. Try to surround yourself with people who care about and support you—family, friends, or church members. Exercise programs (aerobic activities such as walking, running, cycling, etc.) are recommended because of their mood-elevating ability). If necessary, see your doctor or therapist. And learn to say “no.” Others’ expectations are not a reason for your own mental health to suffer.

3. Set realistic expectations. Keep your expectations realistic rather than perfectionistic. Prioritize and reduce self-imposed holiday preparations. Delegate responsibilities. Realistically plan your budget, spending, and shopping. Do less and enjoy more. Obsessing over endless details is bound to change this long-awaited, once-a-year season from a time of exuberance to one of exhaustion. Make it a point to be honest with yourself, and if necessary and possible, limit the time and situations/people you want to be around. When you’ve had enough of either, make sure that you have a way to leave or step away.

4. Take time for yourself. Why is it called holiday depression? Because, for people who suffer from it, the negative feelings don’t occur at other times of the year. Remind yourself of what you enjoyed during the previous months, then continue those things during the holidays. Make yourself a priority! Instead of a “Discount Double Check,” give yourself an “Emotional Double Check”. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel—just don’t stay there too long. Getting enough rest, eating and drinking in moderation, exercising, and continuing other favorite activities can maintain normalcy, routine, control, and predictability.

5. Consider that your depression may actually be caused by this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, occurs because of reduced exposure to sunlight—which is just what happens during the holiday season when daylight hours are shorter. Check with your doctor to see if light therapy might be beneficial for you.

6. Help others. Soup kitchens, homeless shelters, nursing homes, churches, and scores of other organizations can always use volunteers, especially at critical times of the year. Additionally, you’ll benefit from the company of other people around you rather than being alone.At the same time, help others help you! Tell those who care about you what you do or don’t need fromthem. Most people truly want to help but they often don’t know what to do or say.

7. Bury the hatchet. Perfect families don’t magically appear during the holidays, but family conflicts can. Letting go and forgiving can help heal past wounds. Additionally, family feuds can be deliberately set aside until after the high-tension holidays in order to facilitate everyone’s peace and enjoyment at this special—but challenging—time.

8. Start your own traditions. Families and traditions both change with time. (Every tradition had to start somewhere, right? Rather than reminiscing over the good old days,accept the fact that change may be necessary, grasp the season as it is now, look forward to the future, and create your own family traditions that can be enjoyed and even preserved for future generations. This is the year of Zoom meetings, online parties, and other virtual gatherings. They are much cheaper, safer, and easier to organize than traveling. All you need is a webcam and internet access.

9. Keep your alcohol intake low. Don’t pour gasoline on a fire. Remember, alcohol has a depressive effect on your nervous system and your mood, so if you’re experiencing the holiday blues, drinking too much alcohol will make everything worse.

10. Rededicate yourself to your spirituality. The “reason for the season” is often swallowed up by maddening materialism that can distract from the history, meaning, and significance of holiday celebrations. Step back, slow down, and refocus on transcendent, eternal matters. Rededicate yourself to spiritual pursuits, such as church attendance, church work, prayer life, and other disciplines. Regain the focus originally intended by this time of year.

11. Every day, veterans who served in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard connect with proven resources and effective treatments for depression and find solutions that improve their lives. It can be difficult to handle depression on your own, so talking to your family and friends can be a first step. You can also consider connecting with:

–Your doctor. Ask if your doctor has experience treating Veterans or can refer you to someone who does. If you feel comfortable enough with your physician, he or she may be able to help you find tools to manage loss of interest or pleasure even without direct experience with Veterans.

–A mental health professional, such as a therapist

–Your local VA Medical Center or Vet Center. VA specializes in the care and treatment of Veterans.

–A spiritual or religious adviser

Alphonso Gibbs, Jr. is an Advisory Board Member for the Men’s Health Network, www.MensHealthNetwork.org

Opinion

Border Crisis Breaks 35 Year Old Record as Biden and Harris Remain Unmoved

Unbelievable.

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On day one of his presidency, the most pressing issue for Joe Biden was the humanitarian crisis on the southern border of the United States, and we all knew that it was coming.  Biden’s election itself was the harbinger of the catastrophe, as Democratic lawmakers consistently prove more lenient on immigration issues than their GOP counterparts.

And so the surges began, bringing with them heartbreaking scenes of toddler being left to fend for themselves just yards into the United States, and entire communities of immigrants living under bridges in southern Texas.

Border Czar and Vice President Kamala Harris has been little to no help, at least in the eyes of Americans who’ve watched her speak on “climate change” as the “root cause” of illegal immigration.

Now, amid this willful ignorance, the crisis has reached a milestone not seen since the Reagan presidency.

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Arrests by Border Patrol have soared to the highest levels since 1986, according to Customs and Border Patrol data.

U.S. authorities detained more than 1.7 million migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border during the 2021 fiscal year, which ended in September, according to CBP data obtained by the Washington Post.

Historical data shows that Border Patrol made 1.69 million arrests nationwide in 1986, the outlet reported. The data, however, doesn’t show how many of those arrests were made along the border.

And the 1986 spike wasn’t a natural computation, either.

President Ronald Reagan signed a sweeping immigration reform bill into law in 1986, which provided a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who had entered the country before 1982. The bill also tightened up border security and penalized employers who hired illegal immigrants.

The compounding crises of 2021 have weighed heavily on the Biden administration, with the President’s approval ratings sinking to alarming new lows in recent weeks.

On day one of his presidency, the most pressing issue for Joe Biden was the humanitarian crisis on the southern border of the United States, and we all knew that it was coming.  Biden’s election itself was the harbinger of the catastrophe, as Democratic lawmakers consistently prove more lenient on immigration issues than their GOP counterparts. And so the surges began, bringing with them heartbreaking scenes of toddler being left to fend for themselves just yards into the United States, and entire communities of immigrants living under bridges in southern Texas. Border Czar and Vice President Kamala Harris has been little to no help, at least in the eyes of Americans who’ve watched her speak on “climate change” as the “root cause” of illegal immigration. Now, amid this willful ignorance, the crisis has reached a milestone not seen since the Reagan presidency. Arrests by Border Patrol have soared to the highest levels since 1986, according to Customs and Border Patrol data. U.S. authorities detained more than 1.7 million migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border during the 2021 fiscal year, which ended in September, according to CBP data obtained by the Washington Post. Historical data shows that Border Patrol made 1.69 million arrests nationwide in 1986, the outlet reported. The data, however, doesn’t show how many of those arrests were made along the border. And the 1986 spike wasn’t a natural computation, either. President Ronald Reagan signed a sweeping immigration reform bill into law in 1986, which provided a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who had entered the country before 1982. The bill also tightened up border security and penalized employers who hired illegal immigrants. The compounding crises of 2021 have weighed heavily on the Biden administration, with the President’s approval ratings sinking to alarming new lows in recent weeks.

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Opinion

Liz Cheney Claims Bannon and Trump are Directly Responsible for Jan. 6th

The “bipartisan” committee certainly seems to have an agenda.

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If we were still waiting for the last vestige of impartiality to be stripped from the select committee investigating January 6th, we wait no longer.

The bipartisan-in-name-only group had long been seen as a tool for the Democrats to re-try Donald Trump in the court of public opinion, or perhaps sully his name enough to bully the GOP into not nominating him in 2024.  In either case, there seemed to be a goal all along:  Vilify the 45th President of the United States.

This week, one of the two Republicans on the committee went ahead and pulled the bandaid of plausible deniability right off, however, and took direct aim at Donald Trump and longtime adviser Steve Bannon.

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney blasted former President Donald Trump’s ally Steve Bannon for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the January 6 riot, saying that his claim of executive privilege is not only invalid, but suggests Trump was “personally involved” in the planning and execution of the events that day.

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While the committee has yet to provide evidence directly linking the former President to those efforts, Cheney’s comments reflect a suspicion among members of the panel that Trump is attempting to conceal certain communications that may be incriminating.

Her words were unmistakable.

“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th,” Cheney said.

“And we will get to the bottom of that,” she added.

For those wondering if Trump and others would be judged on the factual evidence that comes before the select committee, (as opposed to the political whims of those involved), the answer is becoming clearer by the day.

If we were still waiting for the last vestige of impartiality to be stripped from the select committee investigating January 6th, we wait no longer. The bipartisan-in-name-only group had long been seen as a tool for the Democrats to re-try Donald Trump in the court of public opinion, or perhaps sully his name enough to bully the GOP into not nominating him in 2024.  In either case, there seemed to be a goal all along:  Vilify the 45th President of the United States. This week, one of the two Republicans on the committee went ahead and pulled the bandaid of plausible deniability right off, however, and took direct aim at Donald Trump and longtime adviser Steve Bannon. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney blasted former President Donald Trump’s ally Steve Bannon for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the January 6 riot, saying that his claim of executive privilege is not only invalid, but suggests Trump was “personally involved” in the planning and execution of the events that day. While the committee has yet to provide evidence directly linking the former President to those efforts, Cheney’s comments reflect a suspicion among members of the panel that Trump is attempting to conceal certain communications that may be incriminating. Her words were unmistakable. “Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do appear to reveal one thing, however: they suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th,” Cheney said. “And we will get to the bottom of that,” she added. For those wondering if Trump and others would be judged on the factual evidence that comes before the select committee, (as opposed to the political whims of those involved), the answer is becoming clearer by the day.

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