The holiday season taunts itself as “the most wonderous time of the year,” but is it really? For some, the holidays are not always joyous and festive; rather, they are a challenging and emotional time of year for various reasons. An array of stressors, such as lack of time, financial worries, over-commercialization, and gift giving, along with the demands of parties, shopping, entertaining, and family get-togethers, may cause a wide range of emotions. These demands and stressors may produce feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and grief during this time of year, commonly referred to as the “holiday blues.”
Below are a few questions for personal reflection with suggestions to help combat and balance the effects of “holiday blues.”
Gratitude or Grievance?
It depends on a person’s feelings and what they dread or welcome. On the one hand, feeling grateful, appreciating others, or showing kindness to one another seems easy and natural during this time of year. However, on the other hand, complaints, resentments, and gripes are also a real possibility. Consider these two questions:
- What is one thing you are feeling in anticipation of the holiday?
- What are you most/least looking forward to about this holiday?
Tip: One’s state of mind determines whether they feel gratitude or aggrieved. How a person makes meaning from what they anticipate will happen during the holiday season, whether positive or negative, can affect how they identify with and experience the holidays. Stay calm, gather your thoughts, and make a plan that will help minimize foreseeable challenges.
Dealing with disappointments
Alas, the best laid plans… Everyone has their own idea about what they want to happen during the holidays. Therefore, when things do not go as expected, misunderstandings and disappointment can result. Then what? Ponder this question:
- What is one thing that you always hoped would happen but never does, and how are you going to handle it this year?
Tip: It is important to choose the right attitude and understand that, unfortunately, life is not perfect, and neither are the holidays. Try managing expectations to avoid feeling overly disappointed. Recognize mistakes are bound to happen, regardless of how well things are planned. Try not to expect people to change. Seek compromise whenever possible, find forgiveness, and simply let things be.
The true meaning of the holiday season
Over-commercialism tends to undermine the meaning of the holiday season. Year-after-year sensationalized Christmas TV commercials, along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, can diminish the true spirit of Christmas. To keep perspective this Holiday season, reflect on this question:
- This year I will remind myself the importance of ______.
Tip: Excessive commercialism can often spoil the true meaning of Christmas. Take time out to personally reflect on why Christmas is celebrated. Remember what is most important. Choose to hold on to these things during this holiday season.
While the holiday blues are a real phenomenon, remember these feelings are temporary. Take meaningful action to move through whatever emotions, attitude, and state-of-mind the season brings. Find ways to make Christmas a special day for the right reasons. Keeping context in perspective will help with finding gratitude and hope. Holding on to these things can help make the holiday’s the most wonderous time of the year.
Happy Holidays from the Fuller Life family!
Stephanie Jordan, LPC-Intern, Resident Therapist, Supervised by Amy Fuller PhD, LPC