Many folks look forward to the holidays as a festive occasion and an opportunity to spend some quality time with loved ones. Others do not. The holidays can bring a level of pressure: there’s a shared consensus that it’s something you SHOULD enjoy: buying , preparing, social engagements, etc. There are also a lot of expectations that come with holiday time. What are yours? Stress can accompany these expectations, and one’s personal history with holiday experiences can color one’s outlook. You may be reminded of unhappy childhood experiences, expectations, disappointments, even trauma. Maybe current family relationships are still stressful. Family dynamics are complicated and complex. The anticipation itself can create a drop in our baseline mood.
Gifts can be ascribed to powerful components: We tend to measure our value by the gifts we receive or don’t receive. Maybe you are going to be judged for what you bought for someone else. Will they like it? Will they think you’re frugal? Or, you may assess someone’s expression of care or love for you by the gift you receive. Can you modulate your expectations? Is there another lens through which to “weigh” your gifts? Maybe the time spent considering what to give or get that you may not be privy to. Someone’s financial status – or just gift giving not being someone’s thing. Remember, we all have different love languages. A gift is not always a symbol of the measurement of one’s love.
Isolation can be an overwhelming feeling during the holidays with feelings of loneliness. Folks may be mourning the loss of loved ones – either those who aren’t with us anymore through death or broken relationships. Social anxieties and depression can make the holiday season quite challenging.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
I know that some of my suggestions are easier said than done. I encourage you to find something that you can live with – something that may make you comfortable – and this takes planning and forethought. Generally, I’m all about getting comfortable with the discomfort. Not now. GET COMFORTABLE. Find out what that is for me. Remember that you got through the holidays before, and if this is your time with difficult holidays, you have gotten through some other challenging times – and so you will get through this too.
If you’re someone who does enjoy the holidays – you are very lucky. And maybe, just maybe you want to consider sharing that joy with someone you know may be struggling. It is after all, a time of giving.