How To Cope When The Holidays Are Hard
By Kelly Clark
The air is colder, lights are being hung, shopping carts are full, and the radio is telling us that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Is it really though?
For some people, it is far from the most wonderful time of the year. Maybe it’s the first Christmas without a loved one, maybe you can’t make it home for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, or maybe you are just at the lowest point in your life and can’t muster up the energy to be merry and bright.
If any of these statements above relate to you, I want to tell you something. This may not be a popular opinion, but as someone who struggles with depression, I think it is necessary to say.
It’s okay that you don’t want to decorate the house or bake all the things. It’s okay if you don’t want to attend the parties or wear the ugly sweaters. I want you to know that it’s okay.
My Perspective On The Holidays
Don’t get me wrong I love this time of year. I’m the person that starts listening to Christmas music at the start of November. I also love a big meal surrounded by loved ones. Here is the thing though, I know that not everyone feels that way, heck there have been years where I don’t feel that way. In fact, a survey conducted by the AARP Foundation in 2017 discovered that three-in-ten adults had feelings of loneliness in the past five years.
Having the Holiday Blues
If you are feeling down this holiday season, for whatever reason, I know how frustrating it can be. You see all your friends and family having a great time as they are on full holiday mode. They are inviting you out, wanting you to join in on Secret Santa at their house party, asking why you are being a Debbie Downer during the most wonderful time of the year.
Or maybe none of that is happening. Maybe this time of year can be incredibly lonely as you are looking from the outside in on all the holiday cheer. You walk down the street and see shopping bags full of decorations as couples, roommates, or families are planning their decorations for their apartment/home, you see all the fun parties and events going on through the lens of your Instagram feed. I see you and I know how hard this can be. Here are a few ways to bring a little holiday cheer into your life, no matter how low you are feeling.
Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
If you are not feeling peace and joy during this time, acknowledge this. Don’t try to force yourself into feeling something you just aren’t feeling. Especially if you are doing it to make someone else happy. That isn’t going to help either of you. Your loved one will understand, and if they don’t help them to realize and understand that you are just not feeling the holiday cheer this year. Above all give yourself grace and understanding. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Focus On Your Favorite Part Of The Holidays
A great way to get through the holiday blues, is to try and find at least one activity you enjoy doing during the holidays. Does baking bring you joy? Bake your favorite Christmas cookies, they could even be turned into gifts for your loved ones. Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? Watch it as much as you like, I for one could never get tired of watching Elf or How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Find something that will bring you joy.
Reach Out And Ask For Help When You Need It
If you can’t seem to get through the Holiday Blues, reach out to a friend, maybe you just need someone to vent to. If you feel that you can’t reach out to a loved one, professional help is available to you. Don’t be ashamed if you decide to go that route. You are actually being very strong by seeking help. You are acknowledging your feelings and saying that you want to make a change.
I want to be clear for those of you that have never experienced this feeling during the holiday season. No one wants to feel this way. They don’t choose to feel down during the holidays. What makes it worse is when people put them down because of how they feel. It may be hard to understand because Christmas is supposed to be full of laughter and joy. Instead of making the people in your life going through this feel even worse, there are some things you can do to help them.
3 Ways To Help Your Family and Friends Who Have The Holiday Blues.
Be Mindful & Informed
If you notice that someone is feeling significantly down every time you see them this time of year, ask yourself these questions.
Have they recently been through something traumatic?
Have they lost someone close to them, especially this year?
Have they been stressed more than usual?
Are they not spending the holidays with a loved one?
Do they act like this frequently, not just around the holidays?
Figure out if there is a reason for their gloom, so you can be mindful while you are around them. You will also be able to better help them if you know how you can help them. If you know the why, you can figure out the how.
Don’t Make Them Feel Bad
The people in your life that have the holiday blues already feel bad enough, don’t make them feel worse. If they say they can’t join you in the festivities or decide they don’t want to come out when they said they would, don’t get mad at them. Yeah, it may be disappointing because you were looking forward to seeing them, but put yourself in their shoes. Instead of making them feel bad, figure out how to make them feel better again.
Remind Them What Christmas Is All About
This time of year is much more than parties, presents, decorations, and peppermint mochas, although sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in all that. It’s about family, it’s about being joyful, it’s about the birth of Jesus (if you are a Christian). Remind them of these things. It’s okay if they don’t feel like celebrating by going to parties, decorating the house, etc. They can celebrate in other ways, like listening to Christmas music, coloring, or having a night in with friends and family watching their favorite Christmas movies. Find ways you can show them the joy of the true meaning of Christmas in a way that meets them where they are.
This December while you are rocking around the Christmas tree, don’t forget to be mindful of those around you. Give them space and validation to feel how they feel, and let them know you are there for them.
How do you get through the Holiday Blues? How do you help your loved ones get through it?
Hi! I’m Kelly. I love listening to music, reading personal development books, dance fitness, and catching up on the latest celebrity news or favorite TV shows. I hope you enjoyed the post you just read. I’d love to know your takeaways! I’m the face behind the blog Budding Joy. I write about my weight loss journey, mental health, and trying to figure out life as a twenty-something. You can connect with me on Instagram.