Merry or Merri-less Christmas

Are you feeling less than merry this holiday season? You are not alone. For many people, the holidays are less like the commercialized holiday bliss and more about just making it through the season to the New Year. So, what gives? There are many reasons that the holiday season may not be all it is cracked up to be.

  • Too much pressure to get someone that “perfect” gift?
  • Pressure to spend time with others?
  • Not enough time for yourself?
  • Financial concerns?
  • Memories of loved ones that are no longer at your traditions?
  • Family struggles?

These are just a few of the reasons why this time of year can be difficult. Some people start preparing for this time of year in July and for others there is not enough preparation possible. So, what can you do when you start to feel the Holiday Blues?

Identify Priorities and Set Boundaries

And stick with those boundaries! For example, if visiting Aunt Jean two hours away and is not a priority for you but your mother won’t stop talking about it, talk to her and say that you would love to visit Aunt Jean, but that it is going to have to wait until after the New Year. Holiday events still happen after the actual day has gone by. It is still celebrating. For now, your mother can Skype with her.

Set Reasonable Expectations

Hopefully no one in your life is expecting massively expensive or thoughtful gifts this season. If you do feel that is the expectation from them, I recommend making a list of all the gifts you bought last year and who bought you gifts. I find this helps me to buy in advance, not go “overboard” in gift giving, and helps me manage my financial and family expectations.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

It may seem on social media that everyone you know has
the perfect holiday porch decorations or the best Christmas pictures of their kids picking live trees on the farm. Try to remember that you do not get to see behind the scenes.

That mother may have been fighting with her kids during the entire photo session. Perhaps decorating that porch and having the “best” lights put that family into debt.

Sit back and think about how most of the good memories we have are not about perfection. In fact, I cannot remember one of my grandmother’s decorations to this day, but I do remember her watching me open my Christmas gifts on Christmas morning and spending time with her.

Breathe, because in the end, your decorations and which gift you gave is not what you or others will remember but they will remember if you were present.

When Should You Seek Out a Professional?

If you are asking yourself this question it may be a good time to seek out a professional. Counseling can help with dealing with your heightened emotional state during these times.

The list above is just a short list of the most common things I hear from clients but there are many more reasons you may want to seek counseling.

​Maybe consider counseling as your special holiday gift to yourself this year! It can help you feel better about your priorities and get into the best state of mind, being present, and really keeping in mind what the holidays are truly about.

At the end of the day, it is about reconnecting your thoughts and feelings and considering what you want to do moving forward, making goals, and coming to peace with the past.

Written by Laura Allbee, LMHC