I am normally a happy, energetic, bubbly person. But every year before Thanksgiving, I am struck by the ‘holiday blues.’ It usually passes quickly, but it comes on so suddenly and unexpectedly that I am often taken aback – even though it happens every year. There is so much pressure to ‘enjoy’ the holidays that it’s hard to feel anything less than 100% Grade A Happy. It almost feels sacrilegious, doesn’t it? (By the way, I lost representing the state of Indiana in 1982 for misspelling that word in seventh grade – and I was in Catholic school! Freudian slip? We’ll never know. ) Add to this all the stories you may hear from family, friends or colleagues who regale you with tales of family traditions, dinner plans and fun activities, and you can see where a little blue might seep in.
So I thought I would share 5 tips for dealing with the pressure of the holidays when you’re not quite feeling it – for whatever reason life throws at you.
1. Listen to music. Find the right music to fit your mood and just go sit alone somewhere and lose yourself for 10-15 minutes.
2. Give yourself permission to cry. I am not a fan of crying, ok? But when you miss people who are no longer here or the way things used to be, sometimes a good cry is just what you need to flush some of the sadness out.
3. Create your own traditions. Last year we ran a charity 5K as a family. This year we’re going to a movie on Thanksgiving night. We vote as a family what we’ll do since we are often on our own, just the four of us. It’s good to remember the past, but it’s also good to create new traditions and memories for the future. Remind yourself of all the good in your life – good people, good things going on, and how you could always have it worse (as my mother used to say every time I attempted to complain about something). While you can’t go back in time, you can move forward – and look at this holiday season as an opportunity to make the holidays what you want them to be – and laugh at the chumps who have to cook for 500 people or visit 17 houses in 3 hours.
4. Don’t shop. Sorry, I am SO not a shopper. So Black Friday, Cyber Monday and coupons do nothing for me. I am more like a guy: i need a skirt, I go to a store, get the skirt, leave. Meandering around malls, even while searching for gifts for others, gives me hives, but it’s MUCH worse when there are 20 million people doing the exact same thing. Instead, think about something that makes you happy – something you love to do. Do that. Don’t shop.
5. Don’t work. There is a tendency to try to catch up on everything while you have a few days off. Don’t. Do the bare minimum. Okay, well, do laundry so everyone has clean underwear because that’s the consequences are nasty. Watch stupid reality TV shows you never have the time or inclination for. Catch up on reading. If all else fails, you can always do what I tell my kids we will do on open weekends: “A whole lot of nothing.” It is always a big hit at our house.
I hope this helps you, because it helps me. What are your strategies for coping with the holiday blues? Please share! Thinking of you and wishing you peace during this overly commercialized, highly processed and perfectly packaged time of year.