Do you feel like you are the only one who's not excited about the holidays? Do you feel obliged to buy and receive a bunch of useless merchandise for relatives that you don't even like? You are just one of many who feels like this. Holiday stress is common for many people.
There is the industry of people who work hard to make sure you feel that you need to go out and buy a bunch of gifts for people that you don't know deep down and who will not even appreciate or need those gifts. In efforts to sell you things, they tell you that family is the most important. And, here you are with not the most ideal family. You may be lonely or have bad memories of holidays and family gatherings.
They make you think that you are the only one experiencing holiday stress and blues
I just want to convey to you that many people feel like you. We are forced to think that "family is everything," but the fact is that not all the people have a happy family life or happy memories of their childhoods.
Media will show you the scenes of freakishly happy people glowing in dimmed lights exchanging gifts and eating wonderful foods. Somehow, everything is harmonious and wonderful. They don't show you traffic or crowded airports and frustrated people going through the security wondering if their flights will be canceled due to weather conditions.
They also don't show you the true story of a couple in that beautiful BMW commercial. The commercials don't show you all the people who are together in spite of the fact that they hate each other's guts, that they cheat on each other, or that they are together because they can't stand being alone.
Media also doesn't show you, people, who have to work hard during the holidays and who can't see their families overseas or in another country. Media's job is to make you feel inadequate and guilty so that you can compensate by shopping. You compare your life with just a glimpse of imaginary lives of "shiny happy people." And, naturally, you feel blue.
Pressure to feel joyful and happy creates, even more, holiday stress
This disparity between what media tells you how your life should be and how your situation may be can make you feel even worse. There is so much pressure to be happy, jolly, cheerful, and gather with "loved" ones. And this paradigm doesn't necessarily work for everyone.
Maybe you lost a loved one. Perhaps you just got divorced. Maybe your loved ones are across the country or overseas, and you just can't travel now. And, perhaps you just feel you don't want to tolerate that narcissistic aunt who regularly says something insensitive to you.
It's also possible that you have a difficult relationship with your folks. It could be that you love each other, but you can take them only in small doses. Your parents and other relatives can stir up some old wounds.
Holiday stress occurs even in the most loving families. You can handle it with a few tips. But what if you are not looking forward to holidays because you just don't feel like you fit in all that paradigm of a happy family during the holidays?
How to unplug from all that pressure?
What if you just decided to stay home in your town and spend holidays by yourself or good friends that don't put so much expectation on you? You are really not obliged to follow any protocols. These protocols were established by previous generations, and you can create your own, the ones that work for you.
Who are the friends and family that you enjoy spending time with? Maybe you can join some of their parties when you feel like gathering. It's important to remember that you don't need to feel compelled to any of these standards activities during the holidays.
Oh, and here is a radical idea. What if you just spend some time by yourself. How beautiful may it be to take a hike or a walk on the beach? What about going to a gourmet restaurant by yourself and just honor your meal mindfully? Maybe there is a yoga class that's open at least on some days. It will probably be less crowded.
You will find so many like-minded people on your path. You will realize that your choices are appreciated, and you will even get a few smiling nods from strangers. Oh and the bonus is, no retraumatizing by the insensitive aunt. And let me know what you think. What do you love and hate about the holidays? Leave a comment and let me know.