The holidays are a time of year that so many people are excited about and while I am one of those people, I also want to acknowledge that it’s not such an easy and happy time for a lot of people around the world. Yes – you see joy and happiness everywhere, all around you, but that does not mean that every single person feels the same way that you do about the holidays.
So many people associate the holidays with bad memories and loss and I really feel for them. Maybe it is their first Christmas without their mom, dad, sister, best friend, or even spouse, or maybe they’ve had bad experiences on Christmas day each year. Whatever it is – I understand that it can be a challenging and stressful time, but no matter why you are struggling this year or in the future, I want you to try to focus on joy, no matter how hard it is. Why? Because nobody deserves to be limited to sadness and everyone deserves to feel some happiness around the holidays (and all throughout the year). Because of this, I want to talk about my top ways on how to focus on joy during the holidays, if this time of year is hard for you:
It’s the thought that counts
It is always the thought that counts. I, for one, am an awful gift wrapper and I always get myself worked up about it, but at the same time, why does this really matter? It doesn’t. It truly is the thought that counts. The gift wrapping example is definitely a small one that doesn’t matter much either way, but you can apply this to almost anything. If your friends and family members know that you are struggling this year, they will give you grace and no matter what you do, they will understand. As long as you are trying to spread joy (and receive it), it truly is the thought that counts. Do not push yourself too much!
Limit your stress
Building up stress can intensify your feelings of sadness and/or unhappiness, so please try to remain calm, reduce your stress, and focus on self-care this year. Limit your stress by ordering in instead of cooking, limiting the number of people you invite to your Christmas party, do not agree to attend more events than you can handle, shop early in order to avoid crowds and take advantage of savings, and most importantly, do not do anything that you do not want to do. This is your holiday and you get to choose what you want to do, or do not want to do. Avoid the things that stress you out and instead, focus on what you love about the season (more about this below).
Focus on what you love about the season
Focusing on what you love is always a great way to spread joy, especially during the holidays. If you love to make gingerbread cookies, do it! If you love to drive through a light show, go for it. No matter what it is that you love about the holidays, make sure you incorporate it. Slow down and really think about it before you commit to anything. Do you really want to go to that tacky sweater party again this year, or would you rather stay at home sipping hot chocolate and watching Christmas movies? Good Housekeeping says, “Whether you’re looking for a classic film, a romantic comedy, or a new kids’ flick, there’s a Christmas go-to for everyone. Here are 55 of our favorite Christmas movies from the past 75+ years. Now all you need are movie snacks (a.k.a Christmas cookies and festive drinks!).” Check out their list here.
Talk it out
If you are really struggling this year and going through some life changes or challenges, I highly recommend Ray of Hope Counseling Services reaching out to to get some help. Ray of Hope Counseling Services is a group of counselors and psychotherapists that are committed to helping individuals like yourself feel better. They have seven locations all over Georgia – in Kennesaw, Alpharetta, Conyers, Athens, Canton, Peachtree City, and Marietta and also serve the surrounding counties – and support you in a safe and confidential environment. Each therapist at Ray of Hope Counseling Services is not only licensed and educated, but they also have additional training and/or hold certifications in their specialty area. Each therapist has diversified backgrounds and experiences which allow them to treat a wide variety of issues across the lifespan and they take pride in honoring the privacy and confidentiality of each client. For example, Clinical Director and Founder, Lynn Thompson Umstead, is a trained mental health professional, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Masters of Science degree in Clinical Psychology. Her passion is working with blended families, couples, and women who are experiencing infertility issues and can bring a great deal of empathy when counseling her couples due to her own personal struggles with infertility. So, if you are dealing with your own personal struggles this holiday season, or throughout the New Year, you can lean on Ray of Hope Counseling Services for help.
Surround yourself with people that bring you up
Surround yourself with those you love and those that bring you up – not down. Try to avoid those with a negative attitude because it will just spread and lower to mood.