For some the holidays bring excitement, fun and activities with loved ones. For others this can be a painful time of year. The reasons range from no social connections to loss. This post is for all, even if you don’t feel sad, so keep reading to the end 🙂
If you are one who finds the holidays painful, it’s important to understand why. Maybe it’s because you don’t have the money you wish you had to lavish your loved ones with gifts. You could be in a state of transition and your usual holiday activities have been interrupted. Perhaps you are alone and wish you had others with whom to enjoy the holidays. Maybe you lost a loved one. With all the reminders around you, sometimes it just feels too painful. Maybe you have loved ones and enough money but you just don’t “feel” the holidays like Cindy Lou Who in the more recent version of The Grinch.
So you know why you are feeling sad about the holidays, what can you do? Let yourself feel the sadness. Notice what it feels like in your body. Put your hand on a part of you where the emotion is palpable and just breathe. Allow yourself time to feel. You choose how long. It can be one minute, 15 minutes, an hour… When your time is up, think about any control you have over your situation. What can you do that is both healthy for you and legal? If you don’t have anyone to be with, find others who are alone: a homeless shelter, a nursing home…even a visit just to hang out with the animals at an animal shelter. If you don’t have any money to purchase gifts, get creative with existing items or acts of service gift certificates (cleaning, game night, extra hour before bedtime, animal or child care, playing at the park, massage…). Often the best gifts are the ones that can’t be bought…it’s true! Not feeling it this year? Create the spirit by offering acts of kindness everywhere you go.
After thinking through areas where you have some control take another deep breath. As you exhale commit to taking action and get moving. Eventually, the feelings will likely come back. Just go through this same process each time they do. By acknowledging what you are feeling, giving it space, then finding where you have some control, you are creating a healthy habit of processing emotion. The more you do it, the more likely you are to experience a decrease in the intensity and frequency of the emotion for that situation.
Now, for those of you who love the holidays and have nothing negative going on: love on those who aren’t as fortunate as you. Pass it on. Invite someone you know who is lonely or sad to join you in some aspect of your celebration. Give to those who are in need. Offer a smile and sometimes just a shoulder to cry on. Be gentle, patient and understanding.
If you are experiencing sadness that is out of control and you are thinking you might take your life, please get yourself to an emergency room or call 911. If you need someone to talk to you can call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.