Expectations are high this time of year.
What you should do.
Where you should be.
How you should act.
How you should feel.
It’s enough to cause stress for even the most enthusiastic fan of the holidays!
So, if you’re one of the many people experiencing grief/loss, sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration, or just a general sense of “blah” right now…
It’s OK if the holidays feel like a struggle for you this year.
And you’re not alone.
Read on for 6 things to keep in mind when the holidays are a struggle:
1. It’s OK to stick with your routine.
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to depart from your usual schedule this time of year. But, you don’t have to. In fact, it might even be best for your emotional wellness to stick with the key elements of your routine. Often, in our rush to celebrate and create special holiday memories, we drop some of the habits that have supported us this far. So, if your daily walk helps clear your head, take your walk! If you know you feel better with an earlier bedtime, don’t stay up! You’re the ultimate authority on what’s good for you. Trust that.
2. It’s OK to opt out.
Does the thought of one more party give you a pit in your stomach? Is staying in a more helpful choice than being with a crowd tonight? You’re allowed to skip an event or activity if you want. (Even if you already said you’d be there. Even if you skipped that cookie exchange earlier this week.) It’ll be alright.
3. It’s OK to reach out.
Maybe this is your first holiday on your own. Or maybe you’re surrounded by people but still feel alone. Know that you can reach out for support if you need it. You can text a friend. Or contact a professional. Even going out and being among strangers (e.g., volunteering, window shopping) can help you feel less isolated. It’s a busy time of year, yes. But, you’re not a burden, and you’re not a bother. You deserve connection if that’s what you need.
4. It’s OK to look back.
The holidays can be painful when you’ve lost someone you care about. For many of us, it’s especially difficult to cope with the fear that our loved one will be forgotten. Let yourself reminisce if that’s what you’re needing. Look at photos, share stories… even saying the person’s name can help them feel treasured at the holidays.
5. It’s OK to look ahead.
Sometimes being surrounded by family can dredge up old hurts. You might even feel yourself lapsing into old roles and habits. If that happens, give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling, and know that your past does not define you. Take some time to celebrate how far you’ve come, and dream about what the future might bring.
6. It’s OK to just be right where you are.
Memories too overwhelming? Goals too intimidating? Guess what: You are fully entitled to stay right here in the present. Right where you are, wherever that may be. The holidays can bring a lot of commotion, but today is still just a day. You’re more you than you’ve ever been and that alone is something to celebrate.
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Do the holidays feel like a struggle? Could you use some support?