The holidays are known as a time of cheer, which is precisely why this time of year can be so difficult for many. If you’re going through hardships, moving through a season where everybody is supposed to act happy all the time isn’t the best situation for your brain. However, there are steps you can take to make it through the holidays — the majority of which hinge on being kind to yourself.
Celeste Viciere, a licensed mental health clinician and therapist, tells Inverse that because the holidays are a time where we feel the pressures of society to perform a certain way, it’s often too easy to put our own needs last. But it’s essential, Viciere notes, to keep up the routines you have that you find special — otherwise, you could end up feeling especially drained.
“You can work on avoiding having the holiday blues by staying in your routine as much as possible,” Viciere says. “Pay attention to how you are feeling and honor your feelings.”
"Pay attention to how you are feeling and honor your feelings.”
For example, if you feel overwhelmed and there’s another holiday party everyone is going to, it’s okay to respect what your body needs and skip it. Resting and recuperating, Viciere notes, can prevent you from putting yourself in a place where you feel down.
Psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Terry agrees that the holidays can be a few short weeks full of pressure. That pressure is compounded if you’ve recently lost a loved one, are having financial issues, or health problems.
Terry says that it’s important to remember the holidays are just another series of dates on the calendar. They’re more about the “feelings we project onto them” than anything else.
“Sometimes it can be grounding to think about how many people on the planet don’t celebrate these holidays or associate them with stress or obligation,” Terry says.
He also recommends being mindful of your routines during this time. If being mindful of diet and exercise is something you rely on to feel healthy, keep those habits up.
Terry emphasizes that it’s important to remember that “it’s not your job to meet the expectations of anyone else.” It’s important to take away the pressure of providing others something like the best Christmas ever and instead, focus on what you know provides comfort.
And if you’re already in a place where you’re starting to feel the “holiday blues,” Viciere says it’s time to start being honest with yourself about how you are feeling.