“The jingle bells are jingling
The streets are white with snow
The happy crowds are mingling
But there’s no one that I know
I’m sure that you’ll forgive me
If I don’t enthuse
I guess I‘ve got the Christmas Blues” (Lyrics from Dean Martin’s song Christmas Blues)
Who doesn’t love Christmas, looks forward to decorate their house, fill it with friends, family, and all the amazing scents and aromas of all the Christmas food and goodies? I am going to allow myself to answer: “we all do”. I know I do.
In reality, the holidays are often times made out of a combination of feelings and expectations: climactic moments of joy and celebration mixed with a lot of daily grinds, such as putting up with traffic, expenses, pleasing everyone (generosity is encouraged here), and the stress of it all.
Why all this stress?
The holidays do trigger sadness and depression in many people (more in women than men, as much of the planning, shopping, and cooking is done by women). This time of year is especially difficult because there’s an expectation of feeling merry, happy and generous. We end up comparing our emotions to what we assume others are experiencing. And let’s not underestimate the effects of marketing (catalogues, adds,) where all we see are people looking happy, cheery, and beautiful.
When we fall short of all this elation simply because our lives aren’t magazine adds, we start judging ourselves and feel like outsiders. There are also a lot of reasons people have the holiday blues such as finances, loneliness, grief, divorce just to to name a few.
After going through many articles covering the subject, I have gathered many tips that seem “obvious” at first, but that we don’t necessarily apply. They can help alleviate the hassles and strains, in order to make this jolly time of year a period we can enjoy, relatively stress-free.
- It’s OK to say no: so many parties are organized this time of year that one feels they have to attend all of them. It’s ok to be choosy and follow your rhythm without bending to social pressure. Chose the ones that you know you will enjoy with people you like to spend time with.
- Shop early: the earlier the better so you don’t have to deal with the craziness of the shops, malls and traffic.
- Make time to rest: allow yourself time to catch a breath even when the pressure is at it’s peak. This will give you the energy to go on. This includes sticking to a healthy sleep routine, exercising regularly, and feeding your body the nutrients it needs, with the permission to indulge as well. Some Christmas Holiday delicacies do come once a year. So open that Marrons Glaces box and indulge! Well, to a certain extent…
- Create new traditions: We naturally tend to hold on to the comfort of the traditions of our childhood or those of our children’s. In my case, as a single mom, I have been creating new ones over the past few years with my teenage sons. Instead of holding on to what the holidays “were like” or “should be”, I am attempting to be open to the introduction of new ones.
- Give back: The holiday spirit shouldn’t only be about giving away material gifts, but it is hard to overpass this tradition. So, you can try buying a good part of your gifts from charities organizations. Here, in Lebanon we have plenty of associations which make beautiful things that you will be proud to present as a festive gift.
Have a wonderful Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
One step at a time…