The holidays will soon be upon us. For many, these are not times of celebration but times of emotional challenge. They feel that they should be happy and cheerful during these times because everyone else is, right? Somehow, though, the holiday cheer never materializes for them. Instead, the holidays are times of stress and depression.
A lady I’ve done a number of readings for once told me that she began feeling unhappy every October. She thought that it was because of the start of cooler temperatures and less sunlight. But even when she moved to southern Florida, the unhappiness continued. I saw that it wasn’t the change of the seasons so much as it was the beginning of the holiday season that triggered this unhappiness in her, especially since after January 1 she felt much better!
We’ve pretty much all been conditioned to think that the holidays are supposed to be filled with joy and happiness. If we don’t feel this happiness, then we think that there must be something wrong with us. We feel like real Scrooges for not blending in with the rest of the world, leading to an additional feeling of isolation.
I saw that for this lady the answer was to firmly begin telling herself that she would enjoy the small parts of the holidays that she could, whatever these things were: the cookies, the eggnog, the Christmas trees. Very simply, she had to tell herself that there truly wasn’t a massive euphoria taking place that came over everyone but her! She should remind herself that everyone wasn’t happy and cheerful because of the holidays. Indeed, the readings I have done over the holidays showed that there were many, many people who only felt stress over a number of issues. The money they were spending, the credit cards put to excessive use, the relatives that they felt forced into associating with (people they did not care for), the extra tasks to accomplish… all of these boosted their stress levels.
In addition to telling herself to enjoy the small things that she liked, I told her that I saw that she needed to give herself permission to not feel in the “holiday spirit” when bad things happened. The irritable clerk in the department store, the nasty customer standing in line, the friend or relative who feels they are being imposed upon – all of these are normal, and are not magically changed because of the holiday season.
Lastly, I told her that there are many, many people who barely cope during this time. She was not a minority of one in her difficulty. In fact, she would be surprised how many were sincerely relieved when January 2 came around.
In the approaching holidays, we should all give ourselves permission to enjoy what we can and overlook the rest. This is truly not a time when all of us feel peace, contentment and joy. I have found that it works well for me to feel gratitude for what I have been given, and to find different pleasant aspects of those days. To those who feel that they have been excluded from the holiday spirit, don’t despair. Enjoy the extras that come during the season, and be grateful for what you have all the other parts of the year. If you learn not to expect a unrealistic feeling of happiness, then it will be more likely that you feel a sense of tranquility and not a sense of stress or despair.
For those who are stressed and depressed, be aware that you do have lots of company. Our emotions cannot be dictated by dates on a calendar nor should we expect them to be. If we take the good things around these events and give ourselves permission to ignore the taxing (or skate around it the best we can), then we can survive the holidays and may even surprise ourselves into feeling at times the spirit that seems to infect others!