I have lost my fa-la-la-la-la, and I don’t know where to find it. I’ve looked everywhere for it. I looked in the tree, as I hung four thousand ornaments. I looked in the lights, as I strung them in the rosemary bushes outside. I even emptied out the stockings, but all I found was an old Kit Kat wrapper, a crushed red-and-green curling ribbon, and some lint.

It’s gone.

I’ve bought presents and wrapped each in paper—not bags. That’s huge. I thought surely, wrapping some presents would help me find my holiday spirit.

I placed forty-something nativity scenes around my house. I used to collect them. Now I just haul them out and put them back every year.

I even bought some gifts for an Angel Tree family. That was nice, but I’m still sad. Why am I sad? Christmastime is supposed to be jolly.

I’m not alone. Apparently, there really is a Grinch, and for decades, he or she’s been pickpocketing our joy during the holiday season. According to Healthline.com, depression is on the rise this time of year, and it has multiple causes.

Many people who feel alone or isolated, or who don’t have a large circle of family and friends, may feel even lonelier this time of year. And it’s no wonder, with the barrage of family-friendly advertisements and Hallmark Channel movies. It seems like everyone has the Norman Rockwell picture but us, and our loneliness is heightened.

Others may deal with recurring grief during the holidays. Whether the grief is caused by death, divorce, or some other type of loss, this season is filled with memory triggers that make us long for something better or different than we currently have. We want our loved ones back. We want the perfect marriage and family that escaped us. We want what the people on the front of the Christmas card have, and we feel sad.

Whatever the cause of our holiday blues, we don’t have to take it lying down. Here are a few tips that will help us fight back, and leave us feeling, if not jolly, at least a little more at peace with our lives:

Look for other loners. Chances are, somebody is hurting worse than we are, and we won’t have to search very far to find them. Host a holiday gathering, even if it’s for one or two people. Spreading cheer to others makes us more cheerful. Try something different. If you’ve always spent the holidays at home, but the memories are too much to bear, plan a vacation, or find a local restaurant that will be open, and eat out. Make new traditions. Leave the house! Go for a walk, or if it’s too cold, go for a drive. Studies have shown we breathe differently—deeper—when we’re outdoors. Nature has a soothing effect on our spirits. Find those who are struggling, and volunteer! Give your time to a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, or offer to babysit for that stressed single parent down the street. Time is a much more valuable gift than money, and helping others has the payoff of lifting us out of the doldrums. Whatever you choose to do, it all boils down to this: get out and reach out. Reaching out allows us to give of ourselves. It focuses our thoughts on others and away from the shortcomings in our own lives. And in the process, we may just find a scrap of that fa-la-la-la-la that’s gone missing.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com.