Health & wellbeing

Overcoming the holiday blues

09 Dec 2022 | Written by Jennifer Cromar

We understand that the festive period is not a happy season for everyone. That’s why we’re sharing Jen Cromar’s top tips on how to overcome the holiday blues.

“So, good news! I saw a dog today. Have you seen a dog?” (Elf, 2004)

This morning I watched the John Lewis advert, have been actually looking forward to it, wondering if I will cry. The holiday season has officially begun! The advert (no spoilers in case you have not seen it) makes me laugh and cry at the very same time. The message is about connection, joy, LIGHT.

I sit in my car listening to Radio Four talk about the holidays. A lady calls in, she is taking her whole family to Egypt this year “no cards no presents”. She mentions the John Lewis advert, how “it fills us with expectations that are not met”. Two callers say they are “determined to make this Christmas as special as possible”. “Christmas, it’s a funny thing isn’t it”, says one man, “but still it is my favourite time of year”. He adds “even with the energy crisis Santa is still coming to town, the magic is still there. There is no energy crisis to an eight year old, the crisis would be not having Christmas”. 

A google of “holiday blues” will bring up this word first: LONELINESS. Increased images of families and friends together intensify loneliness. 

Even if you are not alone you may still feel alone, hiding true feelings, spending time with people you are meant to love is very difficult. They may be people who cause you distress. 

You may be grieving for someone or something you love. 

This busy time may be too much, may disrupt your routine. 

There may be money worries

Loss of the spark of life, loss of inner child magic. 

I recently wrote a blog on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Bad feelings about Christmas can be part of SAD. If you have huge feelings of loneliness, even thoughts of wanting to die it is vital to make an appointment with your doctor, call crisis lines to talk, go to A&E, inform people around you if you can. We can sum up the sadness and pain in a word: DARKNESS.

So you can avoid avoid avoid to survive the season, that is totally fine for your self care. Or you can try living it, indulge your senses, igniting your inner light, submerging into the season without sinking in it. If you feel well enough to push your comfort zone: outside of the comfort zone is the fear zone, outside of that is the growth zone. 

Here are some ideas to try:

  1. Break it down… do you hate it all? What parts? What feelings are brought up? Without self awareness change is near impossible (you do not even have to change). 
  2. Make a list of what sadness you want to let go of, then rip it up. 
  3. Start your own traditions (I always buy Christmas Eve pyjamas). Craft! Make things instead buying, like chutney. Try something simple like paper snowflakes for your window or simple white paper chains. 
  4. Decide to not do gifts, or make vouchers to do things for people instead of giving stuff. Or check out pre-loved markets like Vinted. Some items are brand new with tags. You could try selling your own stuff from step 1. Buy for yourself! Buy yourself a present or two, wrap them up and do not open until December 25th!
  5. Life is spiral not a circle, each holiday period will be slightly different. A new year is coming.
  6. Play music, watch films: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘Elf’, ‘Nativity’, ’Soul’, any Christmas Carol. All connect with darkness and bring light.
  7. Take breaks, breathe, take one day at a time…
  8. Boundaries: be aware of how much time it takes before you have reached your limit of social contact. Maybe it’s a couple of hours before it gets too much? Listen to yourself, respect yourself, retreat, self care.
  9. Eat! The Joy Club has been asking what makes a perfect roast dinner. Read the tips, get cooking. However you do not NEED to do this. I have a cherished friend who refuses to do anything to do with Christmas. She won’t even say the word. She has a Pot Noodle on her own each year. This is her self care to get her though.
  10. Go to church, wonderful places to be at Christmas. Help people. Or ask for help. Sing carols. Singing is so good for regulating your vagus nerve system. 

Darkness can not survive in light. Like Elf who says he “saw a dog today”, we can reclaim the simplicity, the light, that spark that is in you. It is found in the every day normality, like seeing a dog. 

The present is the present. 

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