People can feel especially lonely during the holidays. They look around at all the hype and focus on family and community and feel their lives don't compare. It's easy to feel like something is wrong because you don’t have family around, don't have family at all, don’t want to be with your family, or know that if you do, you will leave feeling emptier than when you arrived.
Some people are dealing with the loss of family members, the breakup of relationships or marriages, or the fact that their children are with their ex this year and not with them. Some people don't have any plans for the day, or plans they rather not have, or wish that the holidays would quickly pass so they can return to their normal routines.
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Some people feel the financial strains around the holidays — some resent the pressure to spend more money than they have or don't have, and others feel the guilt that comes with not being able to buy all the gifts that the onslaught of advertisements suggest we do.
Some people feel the pressure to eat more, exercise less, and pay the price of added weight in January. Others feel anxiety around issues of food and for those that struggle with eating disorders, this time of year is the worst.
And for those of you that have dysfunctional families (and really, who doesn't?), dealing with the pressure to spend a day pretending the family gets along, or worse yet, allowing the dysfunction to flourish in all its glory, results in more depression and fatigue than your worst day at work ever would.
For those of you that dare to travel during this time of year, you may find yourself dreading the traffic, security check points, unwrapping all your gifts before boarding the plane, dealing with bad weather, and staying with relatives who have less than desirable accommodations. For those of you that stay close to home, this may mean missing being with your family, feeling left out, or wishing you were anywhere other than your same four walls.
I know this all sounds a bit depressing, but the reality is that many people find themselves in one or more of the above circumstances. For these individuals, the holidays aren't a time of celebration and connection — they can be a time of disconnect and discontent.
So for those of you that feel the holiday blues, here are my sentiments to help get you through.
- It's okay if the holidays aren't what you wish they would be or what the “canned” Hollywood Holiday Specials depict. It's okay if the day is not fun or full of love.
- It's okay if you're alone. Curl up on your couch, find a good movie to see (on Christmas, you'll find a lot of non-Christians at the movies so don’t worry, you won't be there alone), or order in from your favorite local Chinese Food restaurant.
- It's okay if the holidays turn out better than expected. Don't be attached to a negative experience. Don't be attached at all. Be open to what the day is, no matter what.
- Know you're not alone. There are many people out there that have holidays that are less than spectacular and ones that don't meet their expectations or desires. In fact, you may be a part of the majority.
- Find a way to spend the holidays that work for you. Don't feel pressured to be with any one person, doing any one thing, or feeling any one way. It's okay to think outside the box. Be a maverick and make the day work for you as best as possible.
- And lastly, remember you don't have control over much of anything that happens to you. You have some control over what you do with it but you can't magically make your family members be a certain way, or make the celebration look a certain way, or create a feeling that comes from circumstances that don't exist. Surrender your illusion of control and go with the flow. Releasing attachments, expectations, and the need for control will go a long way, every day. Be okay with what is and know that what is in this moment will be different than the next. Be okay with the unknown. Live in peace with uncertainty.
The holidays are a stressful time for many and feeling the blues unfortunatey comes with the territory. I hope these coping thoughts have helped and you have a wonderful holiday season, even if you're not as excited as marketing suggests you should be.
Wishing you a safe and joyful holiday season! - Julie
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Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery Retrieve Your FREE Relationship Assessment Quiz and see if YOUR Relationship is on track at www.julieorlov.com/quiz