Holiday lights hanging outside of an Arcata home. | Photo by Ben Zawilski

Finding Cheer Amid the Holiday Blues

It's the most wonderful time of the year. For some, anyway.
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For some, anyway.

Despite the enthusiastic spirit and excitement, the holiday season can be challenging for people to get through. For many folks during the holidays, the time and costs of traveling, balancing end of year responsibilities and potential conflicts with relatives all trigger a degree of stress, drama and anxiety.

The advertised illusion of the holidays as a joyful and easygoing time of the year discredit the holiday blues. Holiday stress ignites emotions completely opposite to for many people. The emotions are real and ought not to be ignored or made to seem unimportant.

The joy and ease of the holiday season may not match up with your personal feelings, and that can easily be seen as a betrayal of the holiday spirit.

Visiting places and people you rarely see, or attending parties and partaking in festivities can be overwhelming. The holiday season may be an extended break from school or even work, but it adds the responsibilities you generally don’t have the rest of the year. Many people are expected to be present and into holiday festivities with family, but sometimes it’s necessary to set up boundaries.

Remember what makes you happy. One example may be curling up in some blankets with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Whatever kind of downtime works for for you, take advantage of any time off to give yourself that much needed break.

Ben Zawilski

Telling yourself that holiday stress is uncommon or invalid isn’t helpful. Even though it is a season of generosity and giving, make sure to be generous and give yourself the time and care that you need. And set boundaries with loved ones if necessary.

The holiday season should be enjoyable for all, including you. Even even if the celebrations and responsibilities consume your time and energy, they shouldn’t interrupt your happiness and peace of mind.

Find the root to the chaos and what you can do to avoid or overcome it. If a family member is giving you grief, or a gathering takes up too much energy, ask yourself if you should be there. Pleasing everyone is not always the best move, especially if it is overwhelming or too much to handle.

Remember what makes you happy. One example may be curling up in some blankets with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book. Whatever kind of downtime works for for you, take advantage of any time off to give yourself that much needed break.

And remember, a visit to see friends and family doesn’t have to push your physical and mental health to the back burner. The holidays aren’t designed to bring anyone misery. We have the potential to make it both a time to celebrate with others and a time to take care of ourselves.

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