There’s a weight in the air around the holidays, almost like a pressure to be happy.
A lot of people struggle during these times and maybe you’re one of them.
If so, this is how you can make the best of your holiday season, even when it’s hard.
The Phenomenon of Holiday Depression
To some, it is unthinkable why a person would feel down during the holidays.
They love the lights and the food and the family they rarely get to see. They might enjoy attending religious services, holiday parties, and splurging on Amazon for their loved ones (or themselves).
The issue is that, for many of us, those things aren’t always possible. All the festivities only serve to bold, highlight, and underline what we don’t have.
Without expending much thought, we can see that holidays…
- Can create stress around socializing and having to attend events.
- Can put us in contact with family members whom we would rather not see because of past experiences.
- Create financial stress and make us feel lesser for our financial circumstances.
- Create stress around traveling.
- Can remind us of the loved ones we’ve lost.
- Can create immense pressure to perform if you’re hosting holiday events.
- Can create loneliness if we cannot be around friends or loved ones, or if our social lives are limited.
- Can create pressure to be happy, as if happiness could be felt on cue.
These difficult reminders are hard to escape from during the holidays. But, there should be a special time at the end of the year for anyone to appreciate, no matter your religion, or belief system, or place in life.
You can make the upcoming holiday season yours, no matter your situation. Here’s how you do that:
How to Own Your Holiday Season
Let’s look at ways you can curb holiday depression by preparing for it and making the best of what you have.
Not every method will be relevant to your circumstances, but if you usually suffer from holiday depression, some will definitely be useful to you.
1. Holiday? What Holiday?
Contrary to what you might believe, you don’t have to participate in any holiday. Even if you’re obliged to show up to some gatherings, you can spend the majority of the holidays working toward a goal.
Commit yourself to some personal project and use the holidays to finally get it accomplished. Hit the gym more often, work on creative pursuits, travel, whatever is meaningful to you.
Focusing on a goal throughout the holidays will help you tune out the world and all its annoying reminders. And, it will put you far ahead of any “New Year’s Resolutioners” who will wait until the first of the year to make big changes in their lives.
If people ask what you’ve been doing this holiday season, you can let your work speak for itself.
2. Good People Only
Once you’ve reached adulthood, you get to make adult decisions. One of these decisions, which is always best for your mental health, is to be selective about who you spend time with.
If you truly cannot stand to be around certain people, whether they are in your family or a group of friends, then you need to find practical ways to distance yourself from them. People might resist this, but remember, you’re an adult, and you get the final say.
Holidays should be spent around people you love, so choose to only see and contact the people that matter to you.
This is often the spark of “Friendsgivings,” where groups of friends get together to celebrate Thanksgiving and appreciate one another.
Even if there’s only one person you care to spend your time with, do your best to be around them during the holidays. They’re all you need.
3. Reach Out and Reflect (Loneliness)
Maybe you don’t have many close relationships in your life, and the holidays bring out that social ache.
If this is the case, then use the upcoming holidays as a time to reflect and take action.
Reflect on what is holding you back from becoming more social. Think of ways you can leverage your introverted nature and find the social equivalent of your hobbies and passions.
Take action by exposing yourself to new social situations and practicing putting yourself out there. Many events happen during the holidays. You can see those as opportunities to test yourself and step out of your social comfort zone.
This proactivity will help offset the loneliness you feel and set you off on the right foot to be more social going forward.
- **Also, if you’ve been close with anyone in your life, is there a way for you to contact them? Contacting old friends or family members and sincerely caring about how they’re doing means the world to people, especially during the holidays. They might be lonely too, after all.**
4. Trust Your Loved Ones, and Yourself
Maybe you’re the organizer, the planner, the cooker, the baker, and the coordinator.
You run the holiday events, and that can be a lot of pressure.
If you’re dreading hosting something this year, remember that the people you are trying so hard to please likely appreciate you just for trying.
If they love you, they’ll understand the lengths you go to make it all happen, and they won’t be upset about little hiccups here and there.
On that note, if you’ve hosted before, then you can refer back in your memory to every holiday you’ve already crushed it. You have every reason to relinquish perfectionism, trust yourself, and enjoy the atmosphere you create with the people you love.
5. Gratitude Over Celebration
If nothing else, you can practice feeling grateful this holiday season. You can reflect on what you have, who you know, your health, your abilities, and how far you’ve come.
Or you can just be grateful for still being alive.
You can cultivate this gratefulness by…
- Creating a gratitude journal where you write one thing you’re grateful for every morning throughout the holidays.
- Participating in whatever faith you practice. This could be reading scriptures and attending gatherings (This will help with loneliness too).
- Giving: Even if you’ve never done it before, the holidays are a great time to volunteer. Imagine spending the holidays not dwelling on what you’re lacking, but enriching others’ lives. Do you really think you wouldn’t get anything out of that?
You Can Handle the Upcoming Holidays
No matter the cause, depression is still difficult to deal with. In the coming months, it’s best to take things one day at a time.
If you try some of the prevention methods and still find yourself struggling, then talk about it with a therapist or a loved one. The holidays pass, and a new year dawns on everyone. Let that be your cue for new beginnings and better holidays in the future.
Here’s what you should try and do:
- Use the holidays to accomplish goals and make strides that you can feel proud of.
- Only spend time with the people you deem worthy.
- Be socially proactive and make plans.
- Trust yourself and enjoy just having people around you.
- Most importantly, try to find gratitude.
It might be hard to feel gratitude if you’re stuck in a depression, but have gratitude for the fact that you’re still alive, despite the burden you’re carrying. You fight every day to be better, despite how you feel.
Start your gratitude there.