We are just days away from my most favorite holiday of the year (besides my birthday – okay that’s not a holiday but you know what I mean!): Thanksgiving! I love love love Thanksgiving. It’s something about the smells of Thanksgiving and the gathering of all my loved ones. No gift exchanges just the joy of being in each other’s presence. Every year, I cook, and everyone comes to my home. For me, food and the ability to feed people is the best way to show them that you love them. I told my children years ago that I don’t care what they do the rest of the year, but they need to come home for Thanksgiving. The reality is, they are both adults and I know that the day will come when they have their own families and their own traditions.
While I get more and more excited about the thought of turkey, cornbread dressing and sweet potato pie it is not lost on me that not everyone enjoys the holiday season. For many people this can be a very depressing time of year beginning at the end of October all the way through to the New Year.
For some, the holidays are painful reminders of happier times. Times spent with loved ones and for whatever reason those loved ones aren’t around anymore. For others, the holidays bring high expectations and when those expectations are not met then the depression sets in. It can be a real struggle to get through one more holiday party or potluck or secret Santa. It can be too much.
I know that for me, especially if I’m dating someone, the holiday season can be confusing. I remember one year in particular I started dating a gentleman at the end of October so when Thanksgiving came around, I thought it was too soon to invite him over to meet my family. At Christmas, he had plans to go out of town and I don’t go out on New Year’s and he spent time with his children. So, even though I was in a relationship I still spent the holidays on my own. That’s not really an issue for me, because truth be told I prefer my own company to that of anyone else’s. But that’s just me.
Depression and anxiety are very common during the holiday season. While I love Thanksgiving, I get anxious during the weeks leading up to Christmas. The excessive consumerism bothers me because it takes away from the fact that we are celebrating the birth of Christ. How do I deal with it? I breathe and allow other people to celebrate the way that they want without judgement.
If you are dreading the holiday season, here are some things that may help you to cope:
Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you are feeling. Your feelings are valid and should not be ignored. Don’t judge yourself for having them and don’t let anyone else judge you either. Be kind to yourself.
It’s okay to decline invitations if you feel like the event is triggering. Saying no, without explanation can be very freeing.
If you don’t want to be alone, reach out to friends who may be feeling the same way and spend time together doing something “un-holiday-ish”. For example, go to a movie, ice skating, wine tasting … whatever. Pick something that you really like to do, grab a buddy and go for it.
Remember, the season only lasts for a few months. Soon, the tree will be at the curb, the leftovers will be gone, and it will be business as usual. You got this.