THE HOLIDAY BLUES: WHEN THING'S DON'T FEEL MERRY
The holiday season is upon us! With all of the festivities, family time and traveling it's easy to get caught up in the moment and lose sight of all the emotional toll that this time of year can carry for many of us.
It's important to acknowledge that despite all the holiday parties, joy and quality time that we get to spend with the people who we love, this time of year can also bring up feelings of loss, loneliness, depression and painful memories of people no longer in our lives.
It can be very easy to get caught up in pretending like everything is ok, especially during such a festive time of year. But being human doesn't always mean being happy, it means being vulnerable and honest with yourself and others.
It's ok to take alone time, make time for self-care activities and ask for some extra tender love and support from family, friends or other support systems in your life.
I wanted to share some tips on how to give yourself some loving kindness during this time of year, just in-case you find yourself stuck in a holiday rut!
Here are some tips on how to fight those holiday blues:
Make Time To Reflect: The holiday season is a time for reflection on the past. We go back home and see people who aren't a part of our day-to-day lives, reflect on the year and might be faced with some painful reminders and memories. It is important to allow yourself to take as much time as you may need to acknowledge and process whatever comes up. It's easy to drink or eat away our problems because there are usually holiday parties, events, and activities that provide us with an easy excuse to tune out any negative feelings that may be coming up. Don't be the guy who drinks too much at your work's holiday party, because you hate this time of year... It's much better and healthier to take some time and journal, look at pictures, write a letter or even just cry if you need too. Feelings need to be acknowledged and processed, suppressing or numbing them just gives them more power and leads to destructive behavior.
Don't Neglect Your Routine: This time of year can take a toll on your bank account, health and throw your routine off. It's really important to try to stick to a healthy routine and make time for self-care as much as possible. This means making exercising, eating healthy, alone time and budgeting just as important as attending all of those holiday festivities. Overeating sweets, drinking and falling out of your exercise routine can all negatively impact your mood and make you feel off balance. It's harder to make time for those small self-care things, but there is always time if you make it a priority. Don't compromise the things that are good for your mind, body and soul. That doesn't mean don't eat the Christmas cookies, Hanukkah gelt or not enjoying a glass (or two) of spiked egg nog... It means everything in moderation.
Set Boundaries: Setting boundaries can be super difficult, especially when you are back in your home with your family, friends and the chaos that comes with the holidays. Being home for the holidays can be very triggering. (Who drives you crazier than your family)?! The people that are closest to you sometimes don't remember that you are your own individual and have created a wonderful life for yourself. For some reason, going home for the holidays often leads many people to regress to their childhood selves and fall back into old (unhealthy) family dynamics. It's ok to set boundaries for yourself with your family and friends. If you don't want to go to a party, see a certain person or engage in meaningless small talk conversations, it's ok to say no. It may offend some people, but if it doesn't benefit you, it's ok to set limits on what you are willing to tolerate.
Be Present: Despite how crazy being home can feel, there is nothing more special than those memories, traditions and moments with your family. Turn off the TV, put away the cell phone and be present. Watch the kiddos open their presents, drink hot chocolate by the fire, lounge around and play board games with your family. These are the moments that matter at the end of the day, don't miss out on them because you are checking your Instagram or answering work emails. The holidays are meant to bring us together, to celebrate family and cherish each other.
Budget: This time of year can cause a lot of financial stress. It's important to set a limit on your spending and do your best to stay within that budget. It's ok to splurge on gifts for the people that you are close with, but sometimes making something thoughtful or planning a fun activity can be even more meaningful. Financial stress can lead to a lot of anxiety and even lead to feelings of depression. Especially, if you are comparing yourself to others on social media who are posting unrealistic images of the most "perfect" Christmas ever. Material things are nice but they don't make you happy in the long run. The reality is that someone out there is always going to have more... So it's important to be grateful for what you do have and proud of what you can buy, make or do for those that you care about.
Give Yourself Permission To Ask For Help: Like I said at the beginning of this post. The holiday season can be a time of joy and happiness, but for many, it is an unbearable time of sadness, pain, and reminders of big losses in their lives. It is OK to be sad. You are NOT being a Grinch or a negative person!!! It's not easy to feel this way, especially when everyone else around you seems happy and full of joy. Reach out to a few close friends or family members, let them know that you are having a hard time. Let them be there for you... You don't have to be alone in your feelings.
I'll end with this message to all of my readers: For those of you that don't understand how someone can hate the Holiday season, I challenge you to reach out to someone who seems to be having a hard time around this time of year. Invite them over for dinner, grab hot coco or just sit with them. No one should feel like they have to be alone in their pain, grief or loneliness especially during this time of the year. That will be the greatest gift of all!
Happy Holidays from Meridian Counseling!