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Workers Confronting Seasonal Depression and the Holiday Blues

New York, NY – Now that November is underway, the foliage in the Hudson Valley and the tree-lined mountains in the Upstate counties have all taken on a colorful autumnal hue. Soon enough, the city will take on its own seasonal appeal with holiday decorations — and, hopefully, this year will end better than the last.

Ben Kimmel.

Although socializing still comes with some fears, it is safe to say that we have gotten beyond at least some concerns about Covid. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is coming back, once again, to be enjoyed live and in-person. Shortly thereafter, the tree will light up again in Rockefeller Center. And once more, we will find ourselves entering the holiday season, which is otherwise known to be, “The most wonderful time of the year.”

There are serious concerns, however, for workers engaged in strikes and labor actions across the country — including those UAW workers holding strong at 12 John Deere plants in the midwest, and the more than 14,000 workers from Kellogg’s who’ve been on strike since October 15. For them, and others, seasonal depression and the holiday blues can be especially acute this year. 

In addition to regular work and home life pressures, seasonal depression is a very real thing — fewer hours of sunlight during the winter months can cause more people to become prone to bouts of depression. 

But depression can also be situational. 

There are people who struggle with the holiday season because of the profound losses they’ve experienced. After Covid, this is especially true. Whether or not Covid is to blame for our losses, the fact is, not everyone will be able to fully surround themselves with family this year — as the empty spaces at the dinner table make abundantly clear.

It is important to keep in mind that depression can be a silent killer. Therefore, as we move towards the season which is based on family and cheer — be sure to keep your loved ones close. Be sure to reach out to those who might not have anyone else to reach out to them.

As a specialist, I have noticed one unmistakable truth: a little love goes a long way. I have learned that a simple, “Hello” can be lifesaving. Please trust me on this. So, for this season, let’s give each other the gift that keeps on giving. First, let’s start by giving one another some reasons to be thankful. Let’s put the politics to the side. Let’s share a hug and celebrate that, through it all, thankfully, we are still here.

Please also remember, that not everyone feels the holiday spirit. In fact, some people consider this to be the most difficult time of year. But remember something else: it’s okay to not be okay. Just know that you don’t have to be “not okay” by yourself.  

As always, my email is at the bottom of this column. However, I post this week’s thoughts, not as a mental health columnist, a professional, a specialist or even as a union member. I post this as a survivor of my own challenges. So, again, if you find that you are not okay — it’s okay. You are always welcome to send me an email. If I can’t be helpful, then that’s okay, too — let’s see what we can do to find someone who can be… together.

Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on thewrittenaddiction.com, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Well-being and DEI Content Provider, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate.  Ben can be reached at bennyk1972@gmail.com

 

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