Maybe you grew up watching Bing Crosby in White Christmas or the Coca Cola Santa television ads and have the idea stuck in your head that Christmas should be PERFECT. Maybe you grew up with not so happy holidays and want to make darn sure that you ‘do it better’.
The biggest cause of holiday blues is unrealistic expectations.
We’ve always been surrounded by images of happy family gatherings and beautifully framed holiday moments. Quite often, we fall short. With the joy that the holidays can bring also brings fussy, exhausted children, bickering relatives, and meals that look nothing like the one you saw on Pinterest.
The feeling that you’ve somehow fallen short of what the holidays “should be”, or the feeling that you’re missing out because everyone else is happy, can bring about feelings of guilt, loneliness, helplessness, disappointment and sadness.
We all have loved ones who are no longer with us. This time can really highlight just how much we miss our family or friends who have passed on and contribute heavily to the holiday blues.
If memories of a loved one who has passed are making it difficult for you this holiday, find a way to cherish that person. Purchase or make a special decoration for your tree just for them or light a candle of remembrance on Christmas Eve. You could donate or volunteer to a charity that would be meaningful to them. The key is to take action and put your emotions towards something positive.
If your Christmas isn’t going to be a traditional family affair, you may feel alienated from the festive build-up on high streets and television. Humans are social creatures; we need interactions, major and minor, to maintain our mental health. So if you’re going to be alone this Christmas due to divorce or loss or living too far away from family or any other reason under the mistletoe… DO something about it.
This means you’re going to have to take a risk. Action again people.
- Volunteer at a shelter. Giving of yourself is the greatest gift you can give to others AND yourself.
- Talk to all your friends to see what they’re doing… they’re not mind readers you know and will only know that you’ll be alone if you tell them.
- Host your own Holiday Shindig for other people who are alone or even FEEL alone.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and reach out. Who knows… you might form some new relationships and help out others who are feeling exactly the way you are.
Holiday hype is hard to resist. You probably don’t realize it, but movies and advertisements and songs leak into your subconscious. You’re trying to be all things to all people, create the perfect Christmas and working your fingers to the bone. Before you know it you’re exhausted and overwhelmed and for good reason. You are NOT the spirit of Father Christmas personified!
You must learn that “NO” is not a dirty word.
This time of year brings all the trimmings of a flurry of activity, demanding your time and energy. School concerts, toy drives, school parties, (I could go on and on) want volunteers like YOU. And of course if you don’t say yes then you feel guilty. You must remember that your mental health and happiness are important too! Lot’s of other people say NO. They really do. If they didn’t say NO then they wouldn’t be asking you all the time. It’s okay to say a short sentence like, “No I’m not able to volunteer this year.” No apologies or long drawn out excuses. Short and sweet. You don’t owe anyone anything, and your children will still survive if you aren’t in their class with two dozen cupcakes and reindeer antlers atop your head. Promise.
Take time for yourself, whether it’s a half hour or a half day. Plan some downtime for you, to recharge and relax and rest up. Don’t ever forget that you matter at Christmas time too.
And for goodness sake don’t be afraid to delegate some responsibility to others. The feeling that everyone else’s enjoyment rests on your shoulders is a heavy burden for anyone.
Must you always be the one who does things? Will Christmas be cancelled if your sister doesn’t bring the right side dish? Will Santa skip your house if your kids decorate the tree a wee bit lopsided? Does Santa put you on the Naughty List for not having a 12 course dinner? Lighten up and let someone else share the load.
And speaking of family…
Family Tensions –
Oh all the activities – frenzied dinners to group shopping trips to family holiday parties – often put bonds with family and friends under a wee microscope where every past transgression can be seen for miles. All this ‘togetherness’ can strain even the healthiest relationships. As the holidays approach, take a step back and get real with yourself this time of year.
If you don’t get along famously with someone in your family… it’s OKAY to limit your time with them. It’s action time again people, take care of yourself because others certainly won’t be inclined.
- Talk to an ally Disagreements with or about your family can make others feel threatened or defensive. Find someone within your family circle you trust and make a plan.
- Brake for a break Do not wait until you’re so frustrated that you get into a yelling match. If Uncle Marvin is grating on your nerves, take a break and walk away from the situation for a moment. A quick trip outdoors or a jaunt to the store can give you the breathing space you need to calm down before you cover him in gravy.
- What can you change? Sometimes, it’s not your family members who are grumpy and disagreeable. Maybe it’s you. You may not be able to change them, but you can change yourself and your personal reaction to situations.
But I HAVE to HAVE the £500 Hoverboard MOM! Everyone else is getting one for Christmas!
Oh. Oh my. The expectations and limitations are glaring this time of year aren’t they? The need to keep up with everyone else’s Santa Bag and the need to buy, buy, buy for everyone who’s ever done anything nice to you is overwhelming to say the least.
The stresses of holiday overspending can jump start the holiday blues like nothing else.
Set a budget before you start buying, and then stick to it. Take a copy of the budget with you on shopping trips, and mark off items as you purchase them. It’s okay to be realistic. It’s more than okay… it’s a necessity. Why on Earth would you overspend for one single day and then be frantic about paying it off the rest of the year?
Maybe it’s time to think differently about Christmas… as we have all learned from The Grinch…
Do something meaningful for someone else. With a little thought, you can find ways to give presents of lasting value that don’t cost anything at all. Make a family project of doing a good deed for a neighbor, a shut-in, or a relative. It could be something as simple as fixing a meal, raking leaves, or cleaning out the gutters. Put together “service coupon books” that the recipients fill in themselves and redeem whenever they want to.