What is your perspective on the holiday season this year?
Did it come too fast for you? Or are you ready?
There are mixed emotions this year from so many people I know and I’m not sure we, as a society, understand why. Some people hint at the fact that our country is in such chaos that celebrating a holiday seems selfish, misdirected, and difficult.
This article will discuss 5 challenges you may be facing this holiday season.
I have always been interested in the allure of Thanksgiving and Christmas time. It is a wonderful time of the year where everyone temporarily changes for the better. It’s a time when most people reach out just a little bit more to engage and connect with a neighbor. The season often brings with it a sense of freedom, wonder, and joy. Something as simple as the sight of a turkey and/or Christmas lights can change your mood from worse to better.
But are the holidays this special for everyone? Not at all. We can’t forget that terrorism, racism, marginalization/discrimination, inequality, homelessness, mental illness, poverty, etc. still remains and will remain long after the holiday season.
Even if you can’t find yourself in the above ills of our world, I’m sure you have many of your own problems to contend with.
A few things you may be struggling with (like many of my clients) this time of year may include:
- Resentment, anger, jealousy: Christmas often includes the purchasing of a lot of gifts for people around us including expensive gift shopping. Even if you don’t know anyone who buys expensive gifts, the thought is most likely in your mind that “other people can buy expensive things and I can’t.” These feelings can lead to feeling hopeless, helpless, or insignificant. What’s the point in celebrating Christmas if you can’t buy the people you love what you want them to have? A lot of people feel this way and often miss the most significant part of this holiday: faith, love, miracles, charity, inspiration, and hope. For my family, it is all about God and His wonderful blessings (even in the bad times). We’re glad to reach out to others during this time.
- Depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety: It is very likely that you may be struggling with depression, high levels of anxiety, and maybe even thoughts of suicide. You may find yourself wanting to escape the “holiday cheer” or those who seem overly positive and happy. Quite frankly, I can’t blame you. But I want to discourage you from letting this time (which may be a very difficult time for you) to defeat you. Find a healthy way to cope, cling to family and friends, surround yourself with people who are balanced and not insensitive or overly positive, pray and embrace alone time, and push through it.
- Low income or difficulty covering bills: I’ve had, over the years, mothers come into sessions in tears around Christmas time because of feeling inadequate due to having low income. I felt terrible for them as they took it very hard that they could not provide the type of Christmas they felt their children should have. I think holidays like this can be turned into positive learning experiences. It all depends on how you look at it.
- Hopelessness and helplessness: Feeling incapable of having the Christmas you want, feeling left behind because others can afford things, and struggling with being okay with minimal things can be difficult at this time for many. I want to encourage you to set your sights on higher things (love, faith, family/friends, gratitude, the future, etc) and avoid getting sucked into feelings of failure.
- Low energy, motivation, disinterest: Low energy or motivation and disinterest can all be signs of depression. If you’re not careful things can escalate further into a depression that will be difficult to shake. I encourage you to reach out for therapy during this time if you find yourself really struggling. Although every therapist is different, some therapists are staying open until Christmas Eve or are offering long hours because they understand the challenges faced during the holiday.
In the video below, I discuss patterns of communication within families and offer you some tips on how to cope with family during this time:
As always, I look forward to your experiences.