As the holidays are upon us, it is important to acknowledge that while many enjoy this festive season, it comes with heavy burdens for many others. There are a number of different reasons why the holidays are challenging for many people.
For some, it might feel like there’s a lot of pressure to perform this month. You have to get the perfect gift, cook the perfect meal, and find the perfect tree. Depending on where you work, your job responsibilities may intensify this time of year. These things can be overwhelming on top of the day-to-day stresses we experience.
For others, the holidays may bring up memories of loved ones that have been lost. Grief can show up more strongly during the holiday season as it is typically a time spent with family and friends. The loss can feel stronger than it does at other times of the year because the traditions we participate in are often associated with those we care about and can be painful reminders that they are no longer with us.
Other people hate the holidays because they are estranged from their families. Many have been rejected by family or friends due to their beliefs or their identities, and having “family togetherness” rubbed in their face can sting.
Another reason why the holidays may be challenging is that seasonal depression can begin to kick-in about this time. Temperatures decrease, the sun shows itself less frequently, and we begin to feel less connected.
On top of these reasons the holidays are hard, the global COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique challenge in that it prevents us from being in close proximity with the family and friends with whom we would typically be gathering. A different kind of grief may be occurring here, one that tells us we shouldn’t still be in this situation, that the pandemic shouldn’t still be affecting us. But it is, and we make sacrifices out of caution and care for ourselves and our loved ones.
If the holidays are difficult for you, for whatever reason, I would hope you know that you are not alone. Your grief, sadness, and hurt are all valid and you do not have to fake it. You are not a “Grinch” or a “Scrooge” for having a hard time right now. You are allowed to interact with the holiday season in the way that is healthiest for you.
You don’t have to make any changes if you don’t want to, but if you’re looking for suggestions for how to approach the holidays, setting boundaries with yourself and others is a good place to start. This may look like saying no to gatherings of people. It may look to stepping back from the responsibility of cooking the Christmas meal. Take some time to think about what is important for you in the coming weeks and what you might need to get there.
When it comes to grief, finding a way to honor what was lost can help with the healing process. You can light a candle in memory, or set an extra place setting at the table for those who won’t be with you.
Finally, if you need support this season, reach out for it. Find the people in your life you can openly discuss your struggles with and let them in. You may find that there are more people having a hard time right now than you think.
For more information and suggestions check out the following link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lifetime-connections/201912/not-everyone-enjoys-the-holidays
Written by our counselors to help promote your help, hope, healing