Are you worried about a Blue Christmas? We have tips to fight the gloom!
Does Christmas feel sad to you this year? This season can be tough for a lot of people. While some enjoy and look forward to spending Christmas with their close family and loved ones, others aren’t in the most festive of moods. If you feel joyless and empty around the holiday season, you aren’t alone.
Right on time for the first chords of Winter Wonderland to hit us in an endless loop, reality hits hard as well. Christmas is stressful: Christmas parties, gift lists, all the errands to run, the cold to run from, the projects to finish before the year ends. No wonder that our concentration runs low and there’s an ever-growing craving in most of us to just crawl up underneath our covers for a while.
The stress isn’t really over when the last present has been attended to, though. On the contrary: For many, it’s the actual celebration itself that is most stressful. Emotions and tensions can run quite high. Unresolved or ongoing family conflicts sing along in harmony with the Christmas tunes: “Let it go! Let it go! Let it go!” … Not so surprising, then, that according to a survey almost one in two of us look forward to getting Christmas over with.
Our stress budget runs low during the Christmas season
Yes, the Christmas stress is tiring. But it shouldn’t affect our psychological well-being or floor us entirely. Usually, we can reduce the stress after a while and get back on the horse again quickly. But, our resistance to Christmas stress varies from person to person. Everyone has their own personal threshold – a ‘stress budget’ if you will. And when this threshold is low or one’s mental health is a bit unsteady, the psychological strain at Christmas becomes especially high.
In addition to the stress, oftentimes, there’s also the inner pressure and feelings of guilt that people deal which creates toxic thoughts: “Everyone else is doing so well and getting stuff done. People are happy and contemplative – it’s me again that’s ruining the mood and raining on their parade.” In the worst case, the Christmas season can even intensify or, in part, cause symptoms of depression.
It is well established that social stress can have a massive impact on our mental health. Depressive symptoms such as joylessness, lack of sleep, or the lack of motivation can be particularly noticeable in people who have a higher risk of mental illness due to a low stress threshold. We are particularly burdened by conflicts in the family, which can come up or return at Christmas.
Fortunately, we are not helplessly at the mercy of Christmas stress. You can become proactive and prepare yourself “mentally”. Here’s how:
#1: Practice some self-compassion when it all gets to be too much
Sometimes, we lose touch with ourselves because we get so wrapped up in everything happening around us. During the holiday season, this can be especially true. It can feel, with just a few disapproving comments, as if we are not deserving of compassion. And the negative thoughts and emotions start piling up inside of us: Hilarious comments about your weight. Disapproving relationship questions. Not a quiet moment all day. Raised eyebrows accompanied by questions like: “You still haven’t decided?” A tense and tiring political discussion. Any of that sound familiar?
Then it’s clearly time for you to take a break! Listen to this audio exercise to get a bit of distance from this negativity and to get back in touch with yourself and what you are feeling. For example, you could go to the restroom, shut the door and use your headphones to do this exercise. Just a little break in between. See it as a pit stop for your emotions.
#2 Take a break in your imaginary feel-good place
“I need to get out of here” – This escape reflex sounds familiar to you? Try out the imaginary version of that, by just taking a second to picture and create your ideal feel-good place according to your wishes. The sad Christmas situation is suddenly far, far away. (By the way, your feel-good place can exist in your mind after Christmas as well). Listen to this audio exercise to learn how to design and travel through your feel-good place:
Do you want to try more psychological exercises? Check out our App Moodpath – we have more than 100 available exercises and many other features.
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