Reminders for when the holiday season doesn’t feel so jolly
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”…but what if it doesn’t feel like it this year?
The holiday season is a time for many of us, where friends and families come together. We cook up a mean spread, share stories, crack seriously cheesy Christmas jokes, watch holiday movies, give presents, and make memories.
However, also for many of us, the holiday season can bring up a lot of unpleasant feelings, thoughts and memories. Maybe something happened this year? *cough 2020 happened* – cough pun NOT intended – but I’ll keep it because humour is good for the soul.
Maybe you’re suffering on top of an already tough year. There might have been a loss? Maybe you’re going through a rough patch in your professional life? Or struggling with relationship issues? Maybe you feel like this year has just spiralled out of control? Or maybe things feel “off” for no *real* reason at all?
Here’s why how you are feeling is completely normal
The holiday season wraps us in joyful festivities. As the countdown begins, every which way we turn, there’s likely to be some reminder of happy times, and so if we aren’t feeling super into it, we are more likely to think about why things might not be going so well for us.
When we see everyone around us seemingly super jolly (please remember though, not everything is how it seems), we often compare the *highs* of others to the *lows* of ourselves and feel worse. We may experience thoughts such as: “why can’t I be happy like them?” or “gosh the holiday season sucks.” – these thoughts can make us feel like the Grinch…
Common causes of downheartedness in december
- Experiencing grief
- Struggling with a recent divorce
- Suffering from loneliness
- Fretting about finances
- Worrying over a family members wellbeing
- Battling an illness
If you’re working through one or more of these, you’re not alone.
Stress is also heightened during the holiday season
According to a 2015 Healthline survey, results showed that overall the majority of participants felt stressed.
Some common causes of stress during the holiday season include:
- Adhering to healthy eating habits
- Navigating schedules and travel plans
- Selecting the *right* gift
- Finding a balance between work and celebrations
Here are some Reminders if you just don’t feel so jolly this year (ps. and that’s okay)
Given that 2020 has been really rough. I’ve come up with some gentle reminders for you to keep in mind this holiday period – Take what you need and leave the rest.
- You do not have to celebrate Christmas this year – there I said it. If your heart isn’t in it this year, it’s okay to use this day however you see fit. Spending it alone? Taking your dog to the beach? Playing games? Leaving family lunch early to go for a run? Whatever you need to do for your mental health – give it a go.
- Honour your emotions – You are allowed to be sad, angry, frustrated, irritable or any other emotion, try not to feel guilty if the Christmas spirit isn’t there.
- You are allowed to feel happy – Inversely, watch out for any glimmers of joy throughout your day. Again, try not to feel guilty for how you feel. If you find moments of calm embrace them.
- Healing takes time – We know healing isn’t linear, there will be setbacks and the holiday season can make us feel so much worse. However, never forget how strong you are and how far you’ve come.
- Lean on your friends and family – It’s brave to ask for help and reaching out to your support network will make things easier. If you’re not feeling super positive during holiday festivities, leaning on others can help lighten the load.
- Don’t feel pressure to pretend you are okay – you have permission to excuse yourself from holiday celebrations and create a safe space to sit with your emotions.
- Turn off social media – Instead, try being present during the day. Embrace the day for what it is. Remember, people usually only post highlights on their social media accounts.
We are here to help
Here at Indigo, we are committed to helping you get back on your feet. No matter the concerns, we are ready when you are. If you are thinking of taking that brave first step to seek professional advice, please get in touch with one of our kick-ass practitioners. You’ll be matched with someone based on your survey responses and then can be on your way.
This post was written by @laurabeddoe Provisional psychologist and Indigo’s freelance content creator. If you have any requests or suggestions for blog content, you can get in touch with her here.