Where Is My Christmas Joy?
The holiday season can be filled with so many mixed emotions. It can be very festive, joyous, and even exhilarating at times. For some of us it can also be a time of trepidation, involving anxiety, sadness, or a sense of feeling let down. We can experience loneliness, have anxiety over trying to live up to high expectations (from ourselves or others), or be grieving the loss of someone who will not be there this season. Sometimes, we can’t even figure out the root cause of why we are not dealing well with the holiday season.
This time of year, we can even feel pressure to act happy when we don’t really feel like it. When people around us appear to be in a festive and celebratory mood, we often try to stuff negative emotions down and “toughen up.” The result of that, though, can be ending up feeling even more depressed, anxious, or lonely! This is the very time we need to reach out to others.
Some good places to start are to connect with family and friends, telling them what we’re going through. We can also volunteer and give to others with our time and talents. We can reach out to our fellow church members and our pastors when we have a need for connection and support.
At times, we may need more help than our friends, family, or pastors can provide. This is when you may want to seek the aid of a licensed therapist, who has the training to provide you with coping skills and tools that can empower you to take control of the situation and cope with strong emotions. This can be done locally in a counseling clinic (face to face), or by online counseling through the telehealth program of WLCFS-Christian Family Solutions.
During the holidays there are things we can do to be proactive in caring for ourselves physically and emotionally so we can better enjoy the season with our family and friends without feeling so overwhelmed. Here are some ideas:
Set aside time. First and foremost, we must take time for ourselves to rest and rejuvenate. We cannot care for others adequately if we do not first care for ourselves. It can be as simple as taking a warm bath, reading, journaling, having a cup of coffee with a friend, or just spending a minute alone enjoying the quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Without this time we can quickly become overwhelmed, frustrated, and end up having many negative emotions robbing us of our Christmas joy.
Maintain your physical health. Do you tend to become ill around this time of year or shortly after the crescendo of the holiday season? Stress can beat down our immune system response and leave us battling various colds and flus, adding to the difficulty of dealing with all of the demands placed upon us. Be sure to get an adequate amount of nightly sleep, maintain exercise routines, eat healthfully, and remember to take any supplements your health care provider recommends. You may still enjoy some treats, sweets, and libations of the season, but do so in moderation without skipping out on the previously mentioned self-care ideas.
Set healthy boundaries. With so many potential obligations attempting to pull us in every direction, we can quickly have no time to care for ourselves by overscheduling. It is OK to give yourself permission to say “no thanks” concerning Christmas work parties, get-togethers with friends, Christmas parades, tree lightings, or any other happening you do not have the time for. Rather than committing to an event, going to it, and feeling frustrated about feeling stretched too thin, simply thank the person asking you, and ask them if they would like to schedule time together after the New Year. You may even want to get creative and give your friend the gift of an invitation out with you in which you treat them to a movie, dinner, or anything thing else you both enjoy doing together.
Enjoy why you are celebrating. Finally, make time to reflect on the birth of our Savior. Enjoy reading the account of Christ’s birth in Luke 2. Spend time reveling in the miracle of Jesus coming in humble form while simultaneously being the Almighty God who knew us before we were even born. Cherish the forgiveness fully and freely given to you, and share this joy with others. Dwell on the miracle of that Christmas night.
We know that the holidays can be overwhelming, even if we make a conscious effort to slow down and care for ourselves. If you are feeling overwhelmed and would like to talk to a professional Christian counselor, Jeremy Long and our other counselors provide compassionate counseling services via secure video through our telehealth program in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, and Indiana. Please click here to learn more about that program, or call us at 800.438.1772.