It’s not all holly jolly. The time period from Thanksgiving through to New Years Day is an emotional minefield for many. The warm fuzzies sung about in carols or even the good humor of Festivus from that Seinfeld episode can seem impossible to tap into.
If you’re struggling to find joy in the season (especially in this 2020 season after such a crazy year), you’re not alone and you’re not weird. We hope that by reading this, you’ll have an idea of why you might be having a stress reaction to the holidays so you can embrace your experience and show yourself a little extra love.
There’s a multitude of reasons this time of year is heavy. Here are a few…
Many people feel on the outs. There are the messages in movies and on social media of what Christmas ‘should’ feel like. As well as the awkwardness of being told ‘Merry Christmas’ when you don’t actually celebrate Christmas.
Rates of abuse go up during times of stress and uncertainty. The holidays can be a time of stress and uncertainty in families.
The memories we associate with the holidays are not always positive. Abusers have been known to manipulate during this emotional time of year as a tactic for power and control. Because of this, many survivors have trauma anniversaries around this time. Anniversaries can bring on unwanted thoughts and memories from the past. The same is true for people who experienced childhood abuse or chaos in the home during the holidays.
Feelings of grief and loss for people you’ve lost who were special to you. All the grief-related feelings (anger, denial, sadness, bargaining, and acceptance) can come on like a tidal wave, even if someone has been gone for many years. Feelings suck sometimes.
Feelings of grief and loss for the life you dreamed of having. Maybe your life hasn’t turned out like you thought it would. That is a-okay (and you’re probably a better person for it) but the feelings of sadness about this can hit like a ton of bricks. Worries about being single forever or not having the family you always dreamed of are incredibly common and may be exacerbated right now.
Burn out from overgiving and rushing all around. The holidays can feel like a trap for those of us who have a tendency to overgive and overdo. Here's a gentle reminder to all of us to stop, breathe, and remember that our presence is a present for the kids in our lives.
If this is a difficult time of year for you, you’re not alone. Treat yourself with kindness and reach out for support. We’re available in our Facebook Group and ready to commiserate.