To some, the holidays really are the most wonderful time of the year. Being surrounded by family, making trips out of town, getting dolled up for fabulous holiday parties, and smelling home-cooked favorites the way only Grandma or Mama can make them does the heart good. For others, the thought of mid-November through New Year’s Day puts a damper on their spirits.
Viewing this time through the lens of Christmas parties and family fun can be painful. Family strife, discord between friends, realizing the impact of missing loved ones, and stressful end-of-year work deadlines can easily take their toll. Constantly seeing others happy in love through social media oversharing can be a dreadful reminder of the love and happiness missing from our own lives. Now, sprinkle in the dark, dreary days of wintry weather and voila you have a recipe for sadness.
Holiday blues are really a thing. Different from clinical depression which is a disorder characterized by persistent sadness and loss of interest, holiday blues brings on more sudden stress, anxiety, loss of sleep, as well as overwhelming sadness.
Here are seven tips to bring more cheer into your holiday this year.
Acknowledge your feelings. It is OK to be sad; it’s OK to miss someone. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it is the holidays. Acknowledge how you feel while positioning yourself to be in a better mental headspace with music, entertaining movies, or true friends.
Secure your support team. The word ‘unapologetic’ immediately comes to mind. Thwart holiday blues by making contact with two or three people who you can reach at any time. Let them know that they are a safe place for you to express yourself. They must be people who you can be yourself around, people who love you, and want to help see you through the rough days. Whether through text, phone call, or these days a video chat, your support team will help to stop those tears from flowing. When you feel lonely and isolated, reach out.
Be realistic. If you are invited to a thousand toy drives, holiday parties, and gift exchanges, there is simply no way to do it all. Carefully choose the events you agree to partake in. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed or raising emotions of failure because you could not get to them all. Learn to say no.
Be a budgetnista. Don’t begin holiday shopping without a budget. Running into the store or clicking around online without a plan is setting yourself up for disaster. Especially when those January bank statements come rolling in. Decide before shopping who you are shopping for and how much you are able to comfortably spend on them.
Stop the comparisons. Social media can be the devil. People post what they want you to see. Don’t compare how you privately feel on the inside with the public posts that people are sharing with the world. If you could have a one-on-one talk with many of them, the conversation would lead you to look at their lives differently. Everyone has sadness on some level, everyone has friends and family they wish they could talk to, and everyone has shortcomings that they beat themselves up about.
Maintain healthy habits. Yes, Aunt Lula Mae is going to make the world’s best pound cake from scratch. Yes, you should have a piece. But not half of the cake. Overindulgence will only lead to more guilt and stress when you try to get back on track.
Just breathe. Running in circles to decorate, plan for the party, buy gifts, and make travel plans will come at you fast. Take a minute … or a day, to reflect on the good experiences you’ve had during 2017 and project positive energy into the upcoming year. Take time to be alone, breathing deep, slow breaths to clear your mind and restore your inner calm.
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging your truth; however, we’d like to encourage you to find ways to really have a great holiday season.