It’s the most wonderful time of the year! At least, that’s what it looks like in all of those holiday movies.
Let’s be real. While the holidays look like lots of magic and fun, sometimes it’s hard to ignore the stress and loneliness that comes with it all. Our society has pretty high expectations for a knock-out holiday season, and some families just aren’t built for successful get-togethers 100% of the time.
Even so, connection during the holiday season is deeply important. Many of us experience seasonal depression or the more mild “winter blues”, so it’s important that we attempt to connect with those around us for our own sanity.
Let’s talk about how you can beat depression with more connection during the holiday season.
Form Realistic Expectations
The holidays aren’t all twinkly lights and happy show tunes, they’re just another month in the year. Try not to put pressure on everything to be perfect, especially if you feel your family is anything but perfect.
The key to connection is to be realistic about it—as families grow and shrink, so do their yearly traditions. Choose your favorites to hold on to and assume responsibility for them this year. If you have an idea for a new one, try it out! Be open-minded to others’ new traditions, too. Remember, it’s all in the name of connection and quality time.
Care For Your Community
The holidays are a rich time to volunteer and honor the Spirit in your life, Christ or otherwise. Choose a way you’d like to give back to your community this year: adopt a family to shop for, volunteer at a food bank for a holiday dinner, or buy small gifts for acquaintances every time you buy a bigger one for friends and family.
If you’re strapped for cash, plan a baking night with close friends and hand out holiday cookie bags to your mail person, grocery clerk, coworkers, or neighbors. Taking the time to be grateful with intention can be healing. It also serves as a reminder to embrace the little joys in life that depression often hides from us.
Connect With Difficult Family Members
We’re not saying it’s easy, and we’re not saying it’s always necessary, but if you feel capable, try to accept friends and family as they are this holiday season. Set aside your grievances for the sake of keeping the holidays holy and connection-focused. (And give others a little grace, too, since the winter blues may not just be affecting you.)
It’s nice to know that once a year, everyone commits to peace. Some show it by gift-giving, while others show it by simply being in the room. Find what’s comfortable for you and allow yourself to explore the space within your own boundaries.
Avoid “Fixing” Family Members
We all have that one problematic family member (or two) that tries to get a rise out of us. This year, try to visualize a positive experience for yourself. What kind of person do you want to be with your family? Do you want to be laughing and carefree? Entranced in interesting conversation? Feeling loved and welcomed? See yourself that way and let it carry you into the event.
When conflict arises, let go of the need to be right. Family members stuck in their ways can be blinded to their own bad habits. Fighting them on it often has no conclusion, nor does it leave you feeling any better. Bring headphones in case you need to take a walk around the neighborhood, or confide in a close family member to have an emotional escape ready. Don’t shame yourself for leaving early if you know your boundaries have been crossed.
While connection isn’t always easy, it helps the holidays feel the way we want them: warm and full of love. Don’t close yourself off from it this year. If boarding up the windows and staying inside seems like your only option this season, please consider therapy. Then, reach out for a consultation I am here to help you live well all year round