In what is often a festive and joyous season of the year, it can be easy to forget that the holidays are not always a good time for everyone. For those going through difficult days due to any number of reasons—such as loss of a loved one, an ending of a relationship, family conflict, or a chronic mental health condition-the seemingly endless cheer of the world around them can act as an especially cruel reminder of very personal unpleasant situations.
As such, here are a few suggestions to beat back the holiday blues and renew hope for better, healthier traditions in the future.
While everyone seems to be socializing with family and friends (though, in reality, some people’s time with family can be awkward or uncomfortable) use this as an opportunity to engage in self-care, self-enrichment, and pampering. Dine out fabulously, take a spa day, and just otherwise be kind to yourself.
Plan For A Better Year Ahead
If the past year (or two or three) has not quite turned out as expected, grasp this as an opportunity to plan for a more satisfying 2019. Actually, visualize your goals and see yourself accomplishing them in your mind’s eye. When making goals, keep the acronym SMART in mind; that is, remember to make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-limited. Keep hope alive for a better tomorrow, and actively engage in behaviours that are consistent with your goals.
Develop your own traditions
Not all family traditions/rituals are healthy. Sometimes, there comes an insightful moment in life when you finally realize that it is necessary to cut ties with toxic people and painful memories in order to build up a newer and healthier psychological foundation. And there’s no better time to do this than the present. Perhaps plan a trip to your destination of choice and make returning there a yearly event. Make a tradition of buying yourself a nice, decadent gift, or maybe send supportive friends and family “gratitude cards” to express your appreciation for their presence in your life. The options for your own holiday rituals are endless.
By now it should be readily apparent that just because you are not feeling the holiday spirit very strongly this year, you don’t have to suffer. There are many ways to make the season not only endurable, but also actually pleasant. There is no need to be miserable simply because this specific moment is not as you had imagined it would be. Understand that all things in life, including your current feelings, (and, yes, even the continuous Christmas music at this time of year) are temporary. Gracefully accept yourself for where you are at this moment in time, and make your own merry.
Dr. Michael Eason is a psychologist and US licensed therapist practising at MindnLife in Central, Hong Kong.