Holiday Blues: Surviving Christmas


Family at Christmas


It’s Christmas time. The decorations are everywhere, Christmas music is playing, there’s partys galore, and all you’re thinking about is…surviving Christmas. How can you deal with the holiday blues?

Christmas expectations

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of expectations around Christmas. It’s supposed to be a time when we get together with family and friends, we give and get loads of presents, we eat lots of delicious comfort foods, we drink eggnog, we sing Christmas carols, and we’re grateful for everything in our lives.

But what do you do if you can’t stand getting together with your family over the holidays–if all it means are arguments, or watching your uncle get too drunk and saying things he shouldn’t? What if it means you get to relive all sorts of memories you’d rather forget? What if it means spending time with people you don’t really have anything in common with and pretending that you’re having a good time? Conversely, what if you don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with and you’re feeling lonely?

What if you can’t afford to buy loads of presents? What if you don’t like getting all caught up in all the materialism that the media tries to suck us all into? It’s stressful thinking you have to spend all sorts of money and get yourself into debt because your kids compare how many presents they got with their friends.

What if life has been stressful and you’re not feeling especially grateful?

Standing up to holiday stress

There are some things you can do to that may help you feel better. First, think about those expectations. Are they helping you have the Christmas you want to have? Suppose your Christmas went exactly the way you wanted it to, what would be happening?

Who would you like to be with on Christmas?

Suppose you could spend the holidays with anyone you wanted. Who would you spend it with? What would you do together? What are some ways you could try to make that happen, even in the smallest of ways? Would you spend a few hours with family instead of a few days? Would you choose opening gifts together or eating together, but not both? Would you spend every other year with them versus every year? Would you invite people you really like over for the holiday? Thinking about what you want and trying to figure out how you can make it happen–even in the smallest of ways–can make a difference in how much you enjoy Christmas.

Spend less or differently

Suppose you budgeted a certain amount for each family member or budgeted a total amount you would spend on presents, what difference would it make to your pocket book? What if you gave gifts in non-material ways–i.e your time or your talents? Or suppose you made some simple gifts, what difference do you think it would make to both you and the person who received the gift?

Planning for Christmas beginning in January can also make a difference. It’s not like Christmas is a surprise every year is it?

Press this link for more Christmas budgeting ideas.

Be in the moment

Stress can really kill our enjoyment of the holidays. Worrying about what we have to do, how much we’ve spent, and how we’re going to fulfill all our social obligations–i.e. living in the past or the future–makes it virtually impossible to enjoy the moment. Suppose you practiced some mindfulness strategies, what difference do you think it would make?

For some ideas of mindfulness exercises, see my previous blog posts.

Have some fun!

What is something you’d really like to do during the Christmas holidays? As Nike says, “Just do it!”

What do you do that helps you move past Christmas depression? I’d love to hear your comments!