The holiday season isn’t all joy and celebration.
For some of us, the holidays come with stress and pressure.
I’ve certainly felt that a few times.
Not only is there the financial pressure that comes with buying presents. But there’s also the obligation to do things with friends and family, just because the season dictates we must.
There’s always some kind of drama that comes with Christmas Day family dinners, right?
And when we try to opt out of Christmas altogether, and go it solo, the feeling of missing out can add its own stress.
So can we enjoy the holidays without buckling into holiday depression?
I think it’s about taking control of the holidays and doing it your way, not the traditional way. Here are five mistakes you avoid.
Thinking that being on your own is wrong
One of the causes of holiday depression is the loneliness it can create, particularly for single people or those without positive family/social networks.
Loneliness, however, is an interpretation of being on your own – because creating your own fun is a powerful choice.
If you’re on your own at Christmas, you’re in an even luckier position than most. Unlike everyone else, you won’t have to experience any of the financial, physical and emotional stress on couples and families that Christmas creates. You can create the day how you want – with no one to tell you any different.
One of my favourite Christmas Days ever was spent at San Diego Zoo in California. I was surprised at how busy the zoo was. Everyone was wearing in shorts, the sky was ocean-blue coloured and it was 40°C. I saw my first anaconda, panda and tapir that day.
Thinking you have to celebrate it like everyone else (AKA the religious aspect)
Yes, for some, the holidays has a religious intent. But this is also the season of goodwill towards others, a chance to just give, be grateful, and party. So for those of you who can’t face the religious side, go with the goodwill side. Treat the season as the chance to just let go and have fun.
Acting from goodwill will bring out the positivity in you, your friends and with strangers, for example, baking a cake for everyone at work, sing a few carols to your neighbours, or doing some volunteer work somewhere.
Enjoy the holidays for the food fest it is too. Enjoy the opportunites for mulled wine, nut cake, roasted meats and just endless cake.
Thinking that the holidays have to be stressful
Because that’s really an individual choice.
If you want to wade through panicked Christmas shoppers in the malls, that’s up to you.
So why not yourself to a massage or getting yourself pampered, while eveyone else is having a personal meltdown?
If you hate stress like me, you might go and do all your Christmas shopping in Noevember, then fend off any latent holiday depression by binge-watching Netflix or timeouts for sleep and reading. Then calmly know the Boxing Day sales will follow, so treat yourself to a gift then.
Thinking that Christmas is about everyone happily sitting together
I’m sure it looks like that way. We have this idea that the holidays are happy family gatherings, and if you don’t have this, your holiday is going to suck.
That there’s something wrong with you, if you’re spending it alone or aren’t having the holiday or Christmas you imagined yourself having.
This bitterness will send you fast into holiday depression in no time.
The idea that everyone is happily sat together on Christmas Day is an illusion. You have to remember, everyone is feeling pressured at Christmas, it’s not all happiness and smiles. This includes those beloved holiday parties you had as a child. You just didn’t see your parents’ stress levels.
Christmas Day and other such days are just one day in the year. You have your own entire, amazing life.
Thinking that Christmas is about buying expensive presents
Don’t get sucked into the belief that expensive presents and big gifts are the way to go. The commercial aspect of the holiday is exploitative of this, that if you aren’t spending enough on loved ones, you don’t love them enough.
Love shows its forms through action and intent.
Take a leaf out of the Winter Solstice celebrations.
Here is a holiday, on December 21 or 22, that is about back-to-basics fun. Just enjoying each other’s company is present enough. You can write plays, poems or songs for each other or exchange poems and homemade food as gifts. You can play board games, eat around a bonfire or have a rowdy guitar singalong.