Oh, the holidays. Whether you participate in Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, Diwali, Winter Solstice or any of the many other amazing joyous days, this is a busy time of year. It’s meant to be filled with festivity but sometimes it can lead us feeling exhausted or even worse, blue. So, what can you do to keep joy this time of year?
We all remember last year when we didn’t yet have vaccines and were still distancing from loved ones. This is a different time when many of us are anticipating getting together in person again. The idea is thrilling but it could also be overwhelming.
You want to do it all. The family dinner, the girls’ spa day, the office potluck, the secret Santa gift club! The volunteering, the shopping, the dancing, the cooking! I get it. But one of the lessons of pandemic life is to be present in the moment and take it moment by moment. So, slow down and choose what means the most to you and be in that moment.
Take Good Care
This is also a time when it is very easy to get out of our routine. That’s not always a bad thing to mix things up. But when it comes to eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep, don’t mess with your routine. The overindulgence of sweets, the skipping of a daily sweat sesh and getting to bed late to still get up early for work the next day is a cocktail for feeling like, well, you know…. Not only can you start to feel bad, but you are letting your guard down for illness. Our immune systems are important everyday but especially in settings where the weather is getting cold and we are spending more times indoors. It is important not to crack the door open for the a cold, the flu or a new strain of COVID to infect us. Enjoy the season by incorporating it into your routine, not vice versa.
Check in with the Feels
This past two years have already had a toll on mental health and sometimes the holiday season can worsen feelings that already may include anxiety, loneliness and depression. This may arise from multiple sources.
One is the constant barrage of commercials, shows, movies and more that suggest that this is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’. So, if you’re not feeling wonderful, then you’re left to think that there is something wrong with you.
Not to mention that while this is a time for connecting and re-connecting for many, you may have suffered loss or not have strong support systems around you and all the celebrating may remind you of that all too well.
And cue the weather again, you may be living in an environment where sunlight has greatly diminished with December 21st representing the shortest day of sunlight of the whole year! Add snow, ice, below freezing temperatures and you have less reason to be cheerful.
Not to mention this is the ending of another year and that can lead to a lot of introspection about what has (or hasn’t) been accomplished. This can be a source of stress. But you don’t have to feel out of control.
Check in with yourself. If you are faking it and hoping you will get more in the holiday spirit, take a beat to ask yourself what’s going on.
You may have gotten out of your routine (see above) or you may be experiencing feelings that are derived from feeling lonely in the midst of worldwide celebrating. You may not even be able to ID why you are feeling low.
Reach out for help if that is the case. It is absolutely normal not to feel festive 100% of the time just because it’s the holidays. You don’t have to sit it out. In fact, you shouldn’t. Don’t withdraw. Make it a priority to let just one person know how you’re feeling, that could be a friend or a healthcare professional.
Do the Holidays Your Way
There is no one way to celebrate the end of the year holidays even if we are programmed to think there is. Reset your expectations. Maybe all the decorations won’t go up this year but the family heirloom will top the tree. Maybe the latkes are a little burned but they were made with love and Bubbe’s famous recipe. Maybe this is the year you enjoy all the small things and let go of the picture perfect holiday!
Nicole Klett is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach located in the United States. She is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and has worked with hundreds of clients to reach their health goals. She is also a writer who enjoys topics that are related to self-care whether that be sharing tips for healthier eating or for the next book or movie to check out.