The holidays are officially in full swing, and so I want to ask you…
Does this time of year get you feeling blue?
If so, this episode is for you, or if you know anyone who suffers in this way, please share this with them, because I’ve got some tips and strategies to help you honor the way you’re feeling (it’s OK and you are SO not alone) and to really take care of YOU this holiday season.
I think you might be surprised at some of the advice that I have for you, so watch this week’s video by clicking below.
Since people don’t always talk about feeling blue this time of year, you might be feeling like you’re the only one that’s not in a holly, jolly mood which is definitely not true. The holiday blues is more commonplace than most you might think. Many people are feeling sad, disconnected, disappointed or overwhelmed this time of year, despite what the holiday songs on the radio and the Hallmark Channel would have you believe. There are many reasons why this time of year can be challenging or a bit of a bummer.
Probably the most common experience is unrealistic holiday expectations. This can play a big role in how you’re feeling right now, and it’s no surprise that many of us unconsciously set ourselves to repeat it annually. Think about it: throughout this season, we are inundated with unrealistic representations of the happiest families that ever lived on television and in the movies, where everything is perfect and all snowballs, hot cocoa, snuggly PJ’s and the perfectly set holiday table.
Much like the ideals that our society portrays when it comes to love and romance, the picture-perfect holiday depictions that saturate the media and just about everywhere we look this time of year are just NOT realistic.
Sometimes the holidays and seasonal celebrations can highlight what you feel is missing in your life – what you don’t have or haven’t created – particularly when it comes to relationships and family. So the discrepancy between your heightened expectations for things to be rosy and cozy and what actually IS can leave you feeling disappointed.
Next, it’s important to look historically at what you’ve experienced during the holidays. I’ve created a Holiday Blues Guide for you with questions to help you look back into holidays past and think about what could be still be impacting you today. You can download that at the bottom of this post.
This time of year can bring with it feelings of sadness and gloom for those of us who have lost loved ones or suffered some trauma. You may feel the pain of an anniversary date if somebody passed away around this time. Also, if you’ve lost the central person or people in your life who made the holidays happen for you, then you might really be missing them right now. Sadness around this is normal and sometimes it is really hard to move on.
Be aware of any such anniversaries and triggers from your loss, acknowledge them, and as you honor your feelings of loss see if you can also focus on gratitude for great memories and moments as well.
What are some other things that you can do to really care for yourself around this time of the year? I have some ideas.
- Don’t Overschedule or Overcommit – It is 100% fine to say no. Take an inventory of the gatherings and parties that you normally go to and what they will be like and think about which ones you want to go to this year. Maybe you don’t want to go to any…and that’s OK. Really give yourself permission to opt out of anything that you don’t want to do. Don’t overcommit yourself. Try to force yourself as little as possible. Do the things that bring you joy, but keep it simple.
- Don’t Overindulge – It’s easy this time of year to indulge in things like food, alcohol and buying sprees. These can feel like a quick emotional fix, especially when we’re feeling blue and we’re surrounded by holiday sweets, cocktail parties, and shiny things. Make a budget for gifts, reconsider your family giving traditions to avoid overspending and being bummed out when the bills come in January. Be conscious of reaching for sugar or alcohol to soothe your feelings–both are depressants–so while they might give you a little relief for a bit, the crash that inevitably follows is likely not worth it.
- Be Kind To Your Body – Don’t use the holidays as a reason to abandon self-care! If you’re blue, this is when you need to tune into your body the most. Drink lots of water, move your body and work up a sweat, try to eat in moderation and get enough sleep. Your body and your mood will thank you.
- Protect your energy – Give yourself permission to avoid toxic and negative energy. As you take inventory of what you’ve been committing to in the past, take note of the spaces and gatherings that have been particularly stressful. If some gatherings always seem to turn into a shit-show, just don’t go. It’s ok to make an excuse, decline gracefully or, if you find yourself in an uncomfortable or draining scenario, leave or leave the moment you want to (my secret strategy for everything!) And, resist getting baited into any conversations that you don’t want to have.
- Don’t fight your feelings – My thought is don’t fight the blue feelings you may be having. As a psychotherapist, I want to inspire you to understand the feeling, honor the feeling, and then do everything you can to self-soothe in healthy ways throughout the holidays.
- Volunteer and Give Back – Can you get yourself to spend some time helping others in need? Can you do something that would take you out of your head and get you into your body and into the spirit of the season? Adding value to someone else’s life is the fastest way to actually uplift our own spirits. That’s not necessarily why to do it, but it is a real benefit. There’s something in volunteering and the exchange of energy of paying it forward that brings self-love and love for others back into the equation. It keeps you in the present moment and the opportunities abound right now. It really can make all the difference in the world and that’s what this season is all about.
This is all about protecting yourself and creating what it is that YOU want throughout the holiday season. Everything that you can do to prioritize your wants, needs, and desires during this time is essential to your mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health.
I have even more resources and tips inside the Holiday Blues Guide for you, including a special guided meditation to help you bring calm & mindfulness to your holiday season so make sure to download it below.
Know that you’re not alone and that there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling this way. The only thing you need to change is to make a conscious decision to prioritize yourself instead of everyone else this year. Try it and see if it doesn’t shift the way you feel.
I hope that this resonated for you and that it was helpful and added some value to your life. If so, please share it on your social media channels and with those you love that could use a lift this season.
I hope you have the most beautiful week and holiday season, honoring the way that you actually feel, and as always, take care of you.