Certain song lyrics like “I’ll be home for Christmas” or “It’ll be a blue, blue Christmas” can for some people be heart-wrenching songs of agony instead of sweet nostalgia. Unfortunately for many in today’s fast-paced world, the holidays are not story-book perfect. Long distances, poor health, and finances keep some families and loved ones apart. For others, the holidays are filled with financial pressures and multiple stressors. It is not uncommon to feel stress, anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness, grief, lethargy, and even resentment as the season changes from autumn to winter and the holidays grow closer. Despite the many problems, there are ways to make the holidays a little merrier. The key is a little effort and some preplanning.
While many negative emotions can be felt leading up to and during the holiday season, there is equal opportunity and promise for positive emotions, too. By better understanding what the holiday season is all about and putting our feelings, needs, and fears into perspective, a major first step toward a good holiday season can be made. Here are a few positive thoughts to help make the holidays better.
- Be realistic about what the holiday season is all about. Keep your expectations reasonable. Accept the fact that the holiday season isn’t going to really change the lives of those around you. It won’t make problems go away and won’t be an answer to all that ails you
- Plan your holidays to avoid stress. Look ahead. Give yourself permission to be human and accept that while doing your best, there is only so much you can do, given time and financial considerations
- Try to maintain a positive outlook. Consciously looks for good things to do. Avoid Scrooges who will criticize situations and people. Make a list of all the things and people that make you feel good and seek them out
- Get Involved. If loneliness is a concern, then let the real meaning and the spirit of the holiday season work for you. Turn to others who are in need. Spending time giving service to others is the single, surest way to wash away feeling of depression brought on by being alone.
- Learn to say no. Don’t get caught up in trying to be everything to everyone. Put on the brakes and say no to unreasonable demands on your time or money.
- Play. Give yourself ample time daily to have fun. Go to a movie, read a book, go to a basketball game, spend time with a good friend. Look for ways to relax and have a good time.
- Be more forgiving and tolerant. Many people around you may be feeling much as you do. Try to be understanding of their shortcomings and remember your kindness may be just what they need.
- If you make New Year’s resolutions, set practical goals. Even with the best planning, there can be setbacks along the way – take these into consideration.
Above all else, remember that what really counts in what’s inside of each of us. Love, understanding, and compassion are our greatest assets. Happy holidays and the peace and true meaning of the season be yours today and throughout the year.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 50 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.