With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season has officially launched. This can be a very special, fun and holy time of year, but these next several weeks can also be a time that is tough for many of us.
Anyone with past trauma involving the holidays may find old, unhelpful internal tapes running at full speed.
Those of us in blended families can find the holidays both a blessing and a hurtful reminder of tough times.
Personal budgets can take a hit with all the parties, gift exchanges and Secret Santas that seem more popular every year.
Depending on where you live, you may be adjusting to colder temps and shorter days. I know for myself, I really miss my long afternoon walks in the fresh air and sunshine.
Our diets go out the window and we consume large amounts of sugar and alcohol. Both of these can wreak havoc on our bodies and make us feel like, well, crap.
All of this leaves us with one very large, page 1, above-the-fold headline. The holidays are hard! No wait…let me type that again. THE HOLIDAYS ARE HARD!
Believe me, I hear ya’. I can relate to every one of these items, and as I was setting up decorations yesterday, I remembered it was time to dust off and fire up my holiday emotional survival skills. Just in case there are any of you who are struggling too, here are some things I’ve found helpful.
Be Kind to Yourself
The holidays can be tough. Period. This first item is just a reminder that you don’t have to be all sweetness, light and fairy dust for the next 6 weeks. That doesn’t mean we have the right to go full ogre on our family and friends, but if you need to skip a party here or there and have some quiet time, do it. Everyone will thank you. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and find some twinkly lights to enjoy. To my mind, there’s really no such thing as too many twinkly lights. You’ll be amazed at the boost you’ll get.
Set Realistic Expectations
Your family is still going to be your family. Your favorite sister will still be your favorite, your annoying uncle will still be annoying, and fruitcake will still be one of the unexplainable mysteries of holiday gift giving.
You know what to expect, so plan accordingly. Limit your time with frustrating activities and maximize the stuff you love. Let go of the shoulds.
Limit Social Media
I’m guessing this one needs little explanation. We all know that social media, while it has its place, has become the digital version of what we used to call “Outdoing the Joneses.” It leads to unhealthy and unrealistic comparisons and will make you feel depressed faster than thumbing through a beauty magazine.
Currently, I’ve turned off the notifications on all my social media accounts and decided to check in with each no more than twice a day. It’s just a little emotional buffer. Give it a try. I think you’ll find that you feel much better throughout the day.
Yes, even the Hallmark Channel. Seriously, most people don’t live in perfect homes and the number of people getting cars for Christmas is teeny tiny. Like really small. More people are getting Chia heads.
Get Regular Doses of Silly
There are two words for this one: Monty Python. I promise you, six minutes of watching The Ministry of Silly Walks or The Fish Slapping Dance should cure whatever ails you. Especially if you’re like me and tend to take yourself a little bit too seriously.
If MP isn’t your favorite, cue up some old Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore or Bob Newhart on YouTube. Go crazy with some I Love Lucy clips. If you’re a comedy purist, watch Charlie Chaplin’s “Gold Rush.” I promise, you’ll feel better.
Having said all this, please take your feelings seriously. If you’re experiencing a great deal of sadness this holiday season, please reach out to someone. You are important.