With Thanksgiving just behind us, and Christmas a few weeks away, the holidays are on everyone’s mind. And, as much as I love Christmas, I know that it can also be a particularly difficult time of year. In a normal year, the shortened days reducing sunlight, cooler weather keeping us indoors, and the pressure of gifts and family gatherings can wear on even the most determined cheer. And this is anything but a normal year. It’s 2020, where more and more families are looking at doing a Zoomsmas in the face of the Coronavirus and safe travel options are limited. Plus, we’re still feeling a lot of uncertainty fatigue at a time when we desperately want things to feel normal.
If you’re finding yourself feeling less than merry, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling
Every year, there is an omnipresent message that this is supposed to be a happy time of year, so if you’re feeling sad or stressed, it can feel like you are doing something wrong. It’s important to realize that you are not failing or doing anything improperly if you’re not one hundred percent cheerful one hundred percent of the time. You have to acknowledge that you are feeling unhappy, and that is a valid way to feel, no matter what time of year it is.
Once you’ve acknowledged that your feelings are ok, think about what’s causing your blues. Are you stressed out because you’re the one organizing everything for your friends and family during a very busy time of the year? Are you feeling lonely because you’re isolated in general or because of COVID? Are you frustrated with one particular person in your family who is making everything ten times harder than it needs to be? Are you sad because of loss or disappointment? Or are you upset because you feel like everyone around you seems happy, but you just aren’t in the spirit?
It’s important to validate and examine your feelings, because you want coping mechanisms and stress management techniques to help you process and work through your blues, not to mask or ignore them.
And if you’re feeling isolated…
One thing we sometimes lost sight of is why the holidays are a happy time of year. Overall, it’s because they are a time of togetherness. This means that if you’re alone, the relentless “wonderful time” messaging can be a double whammy. However, the predisposition to togetherness this time of year can actually make it easier to connect. This is the time of year where people are going to be the most receptive to “I know it’s been a while, but how’s it going?” If you’re feeling isolated, remember that millions of people are feeling the same – and by reaching out, not only will you feel better, but you might make someone else remember they also aren’t as alone as they might think.
Let yourself say no
During the holidays, it can be particularly difficult to tell someone “no.” It’s the season for giving and for togetherness, after all. However, those should not take precedence over your own physical or mental health. If someone wants a physical, face to face get together and you aren’t comfortable with that, you can say no. If someone wants you to take care of just “one” more thing for the family gathering and you’re already maxed out with work, you can say no. If someone wants something that will break your budget for a gift, you can ask for alternatives, which is saying no with extra steps. If you’re facing too many demands from others, check out this post for more on the subject.
Find your balance, know your limits, and say no when the alternative would be too much.
If you need it, seek professional help
Ultimately, I am a blogger. I can give you tips and tricks that might help, but sometimes what we associate with holiday blues are instead general anxiety and/or depression coming in full force, seasonal affective disorder rearing its head, or a host of other mental health conditions rising to wish you a very unwelcome seasons greetings. All of those can be exacerbated by the stressors of this time of year. If none of what is being suggested by the internet, family, or friends is helping, or if your feelings have reached the point where you’re finding it difficult to function in day-to-day existence, you might need a professional to help you form strategies customized to your needs.
Please remember that there is nothing wrong with getting professional assistance. If anything, it’s the opposite: a sign of strength that you’re able to acknowledge there is a problem and you need help with it. I’ve done it myself, and it’s helped me get through some really tough times. Please, if nothing else is working, get a professional involved. Because you need to remember:
You deserve to be happy
My wish for all of you is that you find peace and comfort in your current circumstances. If you aren’t in the holiday spirit, that’s okay. If you need to reach out for support, including professional support, that’s also ok. Take care of yourself, because you deserve to be happy, healthy, and well.
How are you feeling about the holiday season?