Baby it's cold outside but I'll take a sleighride together with you! We are in the midst of the holiday season. There are 36 acknowledged multicultural holidays from October to December and over half of those fall in this month. Holidays are important to culture because the celebrations that come with them keep you grounded in your own culture through shared stories, goals and values. It gives your children roots in which they can draw from their own cultural experiences. (i.e. They help groups of people form a collective spirit or identity, which in turns helps indviduals define themselves.) It brings people together, which is so important for us as social beings.
However, it can also be a difficult time for many people. It can be a time where they long for family or friend connections they don't have. It can be a time where they're forced to focus on their financial hardships. It can be a time where feelings of failure crop up due to not having the ideal holiday experience or from simply just not being happy enough. (And there is a lot of pressure to be jolly this time of year.) Some people experience these negative feelings every holiday season and others are taken off guard when they have such negative feelings after previously enjoying this time of year.
So how can we best combat these feelings?
1. Recognize Them for What They Are and Embrace Them.
This is espcially important for people who aren't ordinarily subject to holiday blues. The reason being, it can be harder to recognize what's happening and denial seems more prevalent among this group for the simple reason that it is unfamiliar territory. Unfortunately, feelings are often like toddlers. They will not be ignored and, should you try, they will only scream and act out until they are heard. What's more, giving yourself the space to acknolwedge what's happening also gives you the space to come up with a game plan. If you feel like you're in a funk or headed that way, taking time to yourself to just sit with it and feel whatever the cause may be could make all the difference. Journaling, free write, mediation, or another creative outlet can be a useful first step.
2. Establish Strong Boundaries.
There are a lot of causes of guilt, frutraion, inferiority and sadness surrounding the holidays, but there are also a lot of steps you can take to establish strong boundaries so that these feelings feel more controlled. It's important to try to pinpoint where the feelings are coming from. Finances, difficult family members, feeling the need to do it all, constant holiday get togethers, a difficult year are all probably causes to feel drained or depleted. So it's important to protect yourself in order to manage a lot of the anxiety or sadness assocated with some of these things. Some examples include limiting time and having a game plan to escape when it comes to difficult family members, setting a budget and finding creative solutions to spending money, excusing yourself from cetain topics that feel a little too vulnerable if you've had a difficult year, and giving yourself permission to say no to some of the festivities if you feel too drained to name a few.
3. Set an Intention for the Season.
The holidays can be flat out overwhelming. They begin before we're ready and the end before we know it. In a blur of tradition, obligation and general merriment, it's easy to just check out until it's all over. Even if you aren't directly involved in a lot of the festivities, the spirit of the season is palable. A lot of our dissapointment or frustration can stem from not really being present and with all the hustle and bustle it's hard to find solid ground to stand on. The problem with this is that a lot of times our expectations of the season are not realistic or tangible and we wind up feeling dazed and confused at how it could end so suddenly even though we've been immersed in it for at least a month. Setting a clear intention for the holidays helps us feel more grounded and enhances the sense of purpose we want to feel during this time of year. I will probably make a seperate post or video about specific steps on how to set an intention. But a good place to start is focusing on a specific value (such as generosity of spirit, finding joy and/or hope, appreciating simplicity, gratitude, expressing your faith, feeling united with your loved ones).
I hope this post helps you enjoy the holiday season a little more. From my family to yours,
*Note that this is not a guide to deal with chronic depression, suicidal thoughts or seasonal affective disorder. If you are struggling with your mental health this season, please seek professional help.
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
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