What’s not to love about this time of year? There are lights everywhere, cookies, trees are decorated, cookies, stores are all deck out an decorated, and let’s not forget about cookies. Everyone seems to be overall, pretty happy during this time of year.
Or are they?
Numerous studies have found that the holiday season is often people’s least favorite time of the year, and when you look at it objectively, it’s not hard to see why. It’s really stressful. There’s a whole host of anxiety producing factors that come into play: coordinating schedules with families, buying the perfect gifts for everyone you love, attending functions that you feel obligated to go to, and then there’s the added fact that our days are shorter and we sit in darkness a lot longer than any other time of the year (because of science).
There is good reason for those Grinch’s out there to feel this way. Coordinating schedules with families is often the tip of the iceberg. Once you have that down, there’s still the actual attending of family functions. Which is good if everyone is getting along, but what if you’re not? Then there’s the added anxiety of seeing people you don’t want to see. This time of year is also hard for those who have lost loved ones. This is the time that you are more likely to spend a lot of your time with family and that persons absence is really felt around the holidays. Let’s not even get started on if this is a families first holiday season after divorce! That’s a blog by itself.
Finances also take a hit during this time. Unless you’re very conscious of your spending throughout the year and saving a little, you are probably going to be struck with the reality that you aren’t going to be able to get the child in your life a Hatchimal, currently going for $120-$150 on eBay. Seriously. I just checked. We all feel like we have to get our loved ones the perfect gift for this season.
Then there’s the office holiday party, or your spouse’s office party, or a friend’s holiday party, or, well you get the idea. So, on top of your normal schedule, you now have to carve out a time to attend one of these functions, because you know that you “have” to go. Plus, our days are literally shorter, in terms of daylight.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the things that you don’t want to do with this season. But wait! There’s some hope!
While this is a stressful time of year, and everyone is running around trying to get everything decorated, bought, wrapped, and attend all family, friend, and work functions, take a few things into consideration:
Don’t focus on making everything perfect. If you ask most of the people in your life, the way the cookies taste, if your tree is leaning slightly to the left, or every sing bulb burnt out on your strand of lights, and as you were trying to find the problem, you found where the wire snapped (this happened to me), doesn’t matter. What matters is being able to spend time with each other.
Make plans in advance. Even if you know it is going to upset some people, just grit your teeth and do it. You’ll be happier when all the cards are on the table and you can check of one more thing on your To-Do List, which you’ve check twice.
Ask for help. Looking at you mom’s, since most of the burden tends to fall on the moms of the world. Not saying that it doesn’t fall on others, but statistically, the burden of the holidays falls on the women in our lives.
Don’t buy things you can’t afford. This is a tough one. Especially when you know how happy it will make the person you’re gifting it to. But be strong! Be realistic about what you can and can’t buy.
It’s ok to need some time alone, especially to grieve. While we all want to spend this time of year close to our families, for the most part, it’s ok to want to be alone sometimes. Especially to take some time to mourn a loved one during this time. Their absence is really present and it’s important to take the time to honor them.
Don’t ignore the things you normally do to keep yourself healthy. Keep your plan to go for a run at 4:30 am. Make sure you go to yoga that you haven’t missed. Don’t neglect your Weight Watchers points because you’re at the mall and Sbarro is sounding really good and convenient. No one is going to be looking over your shoulder making sure you continue your healthy habits, so you have to do that for yourself.
Take a moment to really enjoy the season. One of my fondest memories as a kid was driving around town with my mom. She was probably stressing about Christmas (see all reasons above) but I just remember sitting in the back seat, looking at all the lights, and really enjoying them. Now that I have my own house, I make sure that we always have lights up during this time for everyone to marvel at. Take a drive to a neighborhood and just take it all in, even if it’s only a few minutes. Go out of the way when you’re coming home from work and it’s dark, or making the trek to a store. Take a moment.
Don’t beat yourself up about not loving this time of year if you are feeling this way. It’s a really stressful time, and in spite of what we see on TV, hear on the radio, or walk in on in stores, the holiday season is what you make it. Don’t feel guilty about not attending every function, or missing part of a family get together. Don’t feel bad about not getting the perfect gift for someone. Make this holiday season what you want it to be, and take a moment to appreciate everything you already have that makes your life great.
All Categories. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2016, from http://www.ebay.com/sch/allcategories/all-categories/
Gregoire, C. (n.d.). Why We Get Depressed At The Holidays, And How To Deal. Retrieved December 06, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/17/holiday-depression_n_6326906.html
Lancer, D. (2016, May 17). Understanding & Coping with the Christmas Blues | Psych Central. Retrieved December 06, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/understanding-coping-with-the-christmas-blues/
Why People Get Depressed at Christmas. (2010, November 28). Retrieved December 06, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201011/why-people-get-depressed-christmas