Ah, winter holidays. Who doesn’t love them? A lot of people, actually – although for many ♫ it’s the most wonderful time of the yeeear ♫, for some, it’s excessively stressful, overwhelming or even straight-on depressing. And let’s state it loud and clear – your experience is valid regardless of your spot on the spectrum. Does ♫ walking through the winter wonderland ♫ with your loved ones make you ecstatic? Amazing! Is the holiday stress too much for you and do you want it to be over already? We hear you! And if the latter is the case, this article is for you.
Table of Contents
You don’t have to be happy during the holiday season
It’s quite a shocking statement to begin your holiday-related guide with, but hear us out. There is a lot of emphasis placed on the fact that holidays are supposed to be “happy” – even the most basic form of greetings is “happy holidays”. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy this time – the problem arises when you are forced to participate in a phenomenon called “toxic positivity”.
What is toxic positivity? It happens when you are encouraged to blindly dismiss negative emotions and forced to pretend everything is fine when it really isn’t. The thing is – there is no such thing as bad emotions. Negative feelings are more difficult to experience, but they are valid and trying to brush them off always backfires. If you ever heard “good vibes only”, “everything happens for a reason”, “just smile” or “think positive” as a response to your very real issues, you know exactly what we mean.
The thing is – holidays are not always happy. Our family dynamics are not always the healthiest. Sometimes this season brings us feelings of alienation, triggers trauma, causes panic attacks. It’s important to acknowledge what you really feel, accept it and try to help yourself in a healthy way. The same goes for less dire situations – yes, it’s normal you feel discouraged, tired, kinda sad or disappointed. If these feelings overwhelm you, it’s important to address them when talking with a person you trust and you should definitely consider contacting a specialist – it’s the most responsible and mature thing one can do. Finally, remember that “happiness” does not equal “absolute lack of negative emotions” – there’s more to happiness than feeling good all the time. And it’s okay that sometimes you just don’t!
“Family” does not equal “blood relatives”
Holidays are associated with family time, and for a good reason – usually, we want to share the enjoyment with our nearest and dearest. However, as mentioned earlier, not every family dynamic is a healthy one. In an ideal world, we would all have loving parents, supportive grandparents and siblings we just can’t wait to see again. Unfortunately, not all of us have been blessed with such circumstances. And it’s time to stop forcing ourselves to spend time with people that hurt us just because we are related by blood.
This is why this year you should spend time with the people that are really your family – meaning ones that surround you with unconditional love, who stand beside you always, who company you actually enjoy. Maybe it’s your friends, your spouse, your fantastic gramma, your beloved pet – heck, maybe you would feel your best on your own. And that leads us to…
You don’t have to spend the holidays the same way that everyone else does
Chris Rea is ♫ driving home for Christmas and can’t wait to see those faces ♫, but you are not Chris Rea (unless you are – then sorry and I love your songs!). You do not have to do things in the “traditional” way – there is no need for cooking a big dinner for hours to host your entire family if you do not enjoy it. You shouldn’t feel obligated to surrender your well-being in the name of any “tradition”.
Think of what YOU would really like to do. Maybe have a nice dinner at a restaurant? Spend the entire day watching your favourite show? Go for a walk? Go ice-skating? Go off to sunny climes? There are no right or wrong answers. Celebrate the way you see fit and the way that makes YOU happy. It’s okay not to be so keen on ♫ rocking around the Christmas tree ♫. Even if for some reason you cannot avoid attending a family gathering, make sure to spend the rest of the day actually enjoying yourself. This is the true holiday feeling!
You deserve some time only for yourself
During the holiday season, it’s very easy to forget about your own needs. You think about all the meals you have to cook, presents you need to buy, windows you have to clean… the guests are important, your parents are important, your cousins are important, the kids are important and your uncle from America is important, too – but where is the place for you in all of that?
It especially happens to women – you are expected to take care of organizing everything, managing every single detail and finally, making sure that everyone is having a good time. Oh and don’t forget – you are supposed to appear as if you are having a blast yourself! It’s definitely not a healthy situation.
It’s difficult, but we encourage you to learn to say no, delegate tasks and deal with the fact that not everything has to be absolutely perfect. Take a break, go for a walk, take a long bubble bath. Or even better – open your Booksy app and book an appointment for a relaxing massage. Visiting your favourite hairstylist or beautician is actually a very good idea – they will pamper you, make you feel beautiful for your holiday plans (whatever they are) and give a great opportunity to think only about yourself for a second. And believe us – you deserve it!
It doesn’t have to be perfect
Finally – not hanging new curtains won’t stop Baby Jesus from being born. An unwashed bathtub won’t ruin Hanukkah. You can have dust under the bed and wonderful holidays at the same time. Your dear granny may be shaking over the idea of not having a 50-course meal for the holiday dinner but you don’t have to fall for that. There will be drinks spilt, political quarrels at the table and at least one kid throwing a tantrum because they got a Malibu Barbie instead of a ballerina one, but that’s okay – your house is not a set for a holiday commercial and your close ones are not paid actors. Be gentle to yourself – and ♫ have a holy, jolly Christmas ♫, even if it won’t be ♫the best time of the year♫ for you. Best of wishes!