The holidays are here. And instead of looking forward to all things holiday cheer, you are secretly feeling a little anxious about it. Life has changed, and it feels like this upcoming Christmas will never live up to the Christmas of years past. It makes you feel just a little sad. And it’s so hard to admit out loud. It just feels wrong to say you aren’t looking forward to the holidays! I completely understand because I have been feeling the same way, too.
From the end of November through the New Year everyone is talking about traditions. Traditions are so important to our families, but what happens when life changes and the traditions you have held so near and dear to your heart change? What happens when the kids grow up and move away? Or when you are sharing their time with the in-laws? Or when there is an empty seat at your dinner table?
The holidays are hard when life is in transition. And it’s even harder when the rest of the world is belting Christmas tunes at the top of their lungs, and you’re feeling less than excited about it. So I gathered 5 tips to help us feel a little more settled and shake the holiday blues.
Acknowledge your feelings
There may have been some big changes in the past year. It’s perfectly normal to feel sadness & grief. Those things don’t get put on hold simply because it’s the holidays. You don’t need to force yourself to feel happy. Sometimes simply allowing yourself to feel the sadness, sharing your emotions with a close friend or family member, and not being ashamed to have the meltdown will allow you to feel even just a bit lighter and brighter. And if not, that’s okay too.
It’s not your job to produce the perfect holiday
Let me say that again for the people in the back! It’s not MY job to produce the perfect holiday. Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children or other relatives can’t come to your home, find new ways to celebrate together. Maybe you share pictures, emails, or videos. Or meet virtually on zoom or facetime and share some laughs. If you are now splitting time with the in-laws, create a special time everyone looks forward to. Don’t make anyone feel guilty for not being able to attend all the things. Remember when your kids were little and you were expected to be everywhere at once? Remember how exhausted you were at the end of the day? Don’t do that to your adult kids. Even though your holiday plans may look different this year, you can find ways to celebrate and enjoy.
Do something just for you – guilt free!
I love to watch cheesy Christmas movies. They just give me the warm fuzzies. When I’m watching them, I can honestly feel the smile on my face and the Christmas cheer spreading through my body. Find what that is for you, and do it! It could be attending the local church’s Christmas program, visiting a live nativity, or even traveling to find every holiday light display in the tri-state area. Whatever it is, let those close to you know this is an important part of your Christmas cheer and DO IT! Go alone if no one will join you. Sometimes it isn’t easy to find the joy that may be missing, so throw everything at it. Continue to search out what brings you the most joy, and then allow yourself to really soak it in.
Give in order to receive
One of the best ways to escape the holiday blahs is to find something bigger than our own familiar problems and focus on someone else. Think about your friends, relatives, local families, or charities. Pick a person or cause that appeals to you and decide to give. It can be your time, money, gifts, or even just a listening ear or helping hand. Giving to others makes most people feel good in their heart. Feeling good in your heart can have a great impact on how you feel in your mind and body. You are making an impact by improving someone else’s holiday and as a result, yours also improves!
Reach out and seek professional help if you need it.
Despite all your best efforts, you still may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, or unable to face your routine chores. If these feelings persist, don’t put it off. Please talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. You are too important to continue pretending everything is fine while you take care of everyone and everything else. Do this for you! And for those that love you. You are worth it.
Perhaps this holiday season will look completely different from years past. Maybe you end up scrapping everything and starting fresh. And maybe, just maybe, you find a few new traditions you look forward to starting. Be open to some new ideas. Go with the flow. Try to be in the moment. And leave your expectations from past holidays behind. They aren’t serving you anyways.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what this holiday season will be like for you. Please leave a comment and join us over in Midlife Reignited. It’s a community full of midlife mamas wanting to find their joy and purpose through the changing seasons of life. I look forward to seeing you there!