Counter Holiday Blues

Elisa A. Escalante/ LCSW/ 12-21-2021

The holidays are flooded with messages. Many are positive, and plenty are what we refer to as toxic positivity messages. Toxic positivity is what we refer to as compulsive positive messages that may invalidate a person’s pain, depression or various other mental health symptoms. Some may be wondering why there are many who report experiencing Holiday depression, but it’s not too mysterious at all. People are social beings, and when we are experiencing the complete opposite mood of most of the people around us, our depression might amplify due to frustration, guilt and shame. The Holiday’s create social demands, they create a positivity bubble, they create an illusion that many ‘fail’ to live up to. They remind us of where we are at on the ‘class spectrum’. What can we afford to do? How do we feel about it? Were we a ‘let down’ this year or were we a ‘success’? Profit building is at an all-time high around this time of year and there are messages everywhere telling us what ‘we need’ to buy for ourselves or our loved ones. Personally, I prefer the more practical messages that the Holidays were originally supposed to provide. Not the modern messages that leave us feeling like we aren’t good enough because we aren’t rich enough.

       Focus Areas to counter Holiday Blues:

Family/Friend Time:  As we know due to the popular love language quiz that has been circulating, gift giving isn’t the only love language out there. Quality time is a big one. As a matter of fact, the majority of my family, friends and clients scored higher on quality time vs gifts. This means, your ‘gift’ to others can be your time. No pressure to necessarily buy fancy overpriced items. We’re so busy, we rarely have quality time to spend on others. Some would even say that throwing a gift at someone with a quick hi and goodbye is easier than giving them your time. The intention of spending time with loved ones is an incredible gift and vastly underrated.

Building Traditions: Traditions are beautiful and enjoyable. I do not mean the tradition of gift giving, but everything else outside of that. Watching your favorite Holiday season movies, sharing your favorite meals, discussing what you may be grateful for or creating new goals. Having a favorite ‘magical’ area to visit where you and your loved ones can keep going back to. If you find yourself in the Holiday blues, consider creating your own new tradition.

Make alone time enjoyable too:  Maybe you have a family, maybe a relationship or maybe you are single. Either way, activities in solitude can be meditative and peaceful. It’s hard to filter out the messages that make us feel we need people around 24/7, but the truth is, everyone also needs time to themselves. The Holiday’s make it harder for us to access that peace, we are pressured to feel otherwise. Create your Holiday alone time rituals as well! When people feel lonely, especially due to break ups, I always encourage them to do the things they always wanted to do but never could when they were ‘tied down.’

Explore: Another free but incredibly fun thing to do, explore and travel. Travel does not have to mean you cut deep into your pocket book. It could be a short road trip. It could simply be nature hiking on the outskirts of your town. It could be walking down the street and both window shopping and people watching. It’s about paying attention to your surroundings, appreciating the environment around you and seeing things while reframing how you see things. Plus, who doesn’t like looking at Christmas lights on houses?

Cook or Bake your favorite treats:  Cook and bake your favorite Holiday meals and/ or treats and then enjoy your hard work with taste tests for you and your friends/ family. Eating is always wholesome and a great way to cherish Holiday’s, with or without added gifts. Consider, this year, contributing more to cooking or baking vs sitting around bored while letting your elders do all the work. Then you have the dread of doing all the dishes because you did not want to cook/ bake. This can be a fun activity to experiment with and it also does not hurt to find a new recipe to add to the mix!

Declutter: Lonely? Bored? Very broke? Isolating? Declutter your life. This will be a project but it will create a change that can elevate your mood by keeping your body busy as well as helping your mind find more peace in a cleaner environment. Even when times are extremely hard, our environment can make or break the mood even further. Everyone deserves to be in a comfortable place where they rest their mind and body. Decluttering can also help us explore minimalism and appreciate the value of the items we do keep.

Donate/ Help: We may not be rich, but almost everyone has something to give. Or maybe not an item to give, but a skill that can help other’s. The Holiday’s may also serve as a reminder that we may be richer than we think, and if we do have something to offer, we can help other’s during struggles and trying times. Maybe we can donate items, maybe we can donate money, or maybe we can donate our time to others in need. That’s also in the Holiday spirit and does not require us to splurge insane amounts on things that do not matter.

      I hope everyone uses these times to create more value in their lives and in the lives of others. We can challenge ourselves not by testing how much we can buy or show off, but by fostering new traditions and enriching lives. Overall, the Holiday’s become what we want to make them, or don’t want to make them. And the beauty is we get a say and choice in that experience. We can build it however we see fit and by whatever means we have right now. I hope this helps, and have a good and safe Holiday season and Happy New Year.

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

3 thoughts on “Counter Holiday Blues

  1. Thank you for sharing these. They were definitely helpful and baking is something my mom and I always did at Christmas time. I will be sharing it with my son in honor of my mom.

    Liked by 1 person

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