The Christmas/New Year Season is a time of festivities, decorations and social outings but it is also a time of heightened stress and loneliness. Studies show that 71% of Americans are stressed or unhappy during the holidays. How can we be happy this holiday season? Because of the artificial ideal around the holidays—the concept that this period is ‘supposed to’ be about family, togetherness, kindness, generosity, and gratitude—the stress of loneliness, over-commitment or familial strain becomes particularly acute.
The biggest problem people face is the myth that the holidays are supposed to be joyous and trouble-free. The first and most important step to having a truly happy holiday is to forget the holiday spirit that you believe you “should” be feeling.
The holiday spirit is an imposed myth, and the first step to finding true happiness this holiday season and beyond is to stop pretending you’re happy.
People don’t often acknowledge it if life starts feeling heavier at this time of year because they’ve bought into the myth that holiday time is supposed to be the happy time, and if you’re not happy then there must be something wrong with you. ‘Tis the season to be jolly’ may be running rampant but that is not the case for all, leaving many people to feel isolated in their discontent.
If you’re one of those people feeling insecure, feeling down, a lot of time it feels like there’s no place to turn. You’re not crazy; you’re not the only one.
Here are four simple tips for people who are struggling this holiday season, and for those who want to experience true happiness during the holidays:
#1: Don’t buy into the holiday myth.
Most people believe they are supposed to be happy during the holidays, and therefore don’t speak up when they are feeling unhappy or upset. People don’t often acknowledge it if life starts feeling heavier at this time of year because they’ve bought into the myth that holiday time is supposed to be the happy time, and if you’re not happy then there must be something wrong with you. If you’re one of those people feeling insecure, feeling down, a lot of time it feels like there’s no place to turn. There’s nobody to say, hey you’re not crazy; you’re not the only one.
#2: Don’t buy into other people’s (not even family members’) drama.
How much do you allow other peoples’ lives to get intertwined in yours? Your life is your own, and your happiness is a choice you make. So, let others be unhappy if they choose. If others are unhappy, it’s not your job to change it. It’s your job to be happy if that is the place you’re in; to show them that there are other choices available, if and when they want a different choice.
#3: It’s ok to be different.
There is a lot of pressure at holiday time to get along with family members and other individuals, but instead of conforming to appease people, it is better to acknowledge and celebrate what is different about you. What if your difference is the greatness about you; is what can make a valuable change in the world? To embrace your difference, ask yourself, “What is different about me that is wonderful about me?”
#4: Make aloneness a fun experience.
If you are alone over the holidays, ask yourself, “What can I do to make this the greatest holiday of my life? What can I learn about me that I have never explored before? What can I do, where can I go, that would be fun for me?”
A joyful holiday season is possible. Even if everyone around you is frantic, overwhelmed or has a strong case of the Christmas blues. Let go of expectations this holiday season and more importantly, don’t buy into the holiday myth, or other people’s drama, know it’s truly ok to be different, and if you’re going it alone, make it fun so you can have true joy during this season of celebration.
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