The holiday season is supposed to be a joyful time but for many people who are going through difficulties, holidays can be tough. Divorce, loss, an illness or a marriage that’s in conflict can all make holiday time less joyful. But there are things that you can do to make the holidays better, even if you’re dealing with tough times.
1. Don’t put extra pressure on yourself
There is no rule that you have to celebrate the holidays in a certain way every year. Do you like having a big celebration or would you rather do something smaller and casual? Maybe you want to watch movies, read a book or go snowshoeing. You get to decide each year how you’re going to celebrate the holiday season. You don’t have to do what you’ve done in the past. You can make new traditions based on what’s best for you. This year, take the pressure off of yourself and create memories in a different way so that you can put your feet up and relax. You deserve it!
2. Spend the holidays with who you want to spend it with
You don’t have to spend the holidays with people who aren’t kind, caring and supportive of you. If you’re used to spending the holidays with family members who make you uncomfortable or who don’t really understand you, take a break from them this year. If you’re divorced and don’t have your children, find a good friend or family who you want to be with. If your in-laws are not who you want to be with, spend the time with just your immediate family. Too may times, we do things because we’ve done them in the past. This year, do what works best for you.
3. Make sure that you reach out to loved ones
Many people who are struggling during the holidays don’t tell their loved ones how they feel. They may be ashamed or don’t want to bother anyone. But people who are close to you would probably want to help. They might be going through their own struggle and they would benefit from connecting with you. If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable talking to, you can always reach out to a therapist.
4. Focus on the positives
Even if times are tough there are always positive things going on in life. Every day you can watch the sunset or take a walk in nature. You have your good health or your children to focus on. You are able to walk, ride a bike and take a warm bath. There are so many small things that we take for granted that we can be grateful for. What is positive in your life?
When you’re going through a difficult situation, it can be hard to get through the holiday season. Make sure that you don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself, you’re intentional with who you spend your holiday with, reach out to loved ones and focus on the positive. There are ways to turn around a holiday season that you’re dreading and make it into a positive experience for you and your family.
Jill Barnett Kaufman, MSW, LCSW and Certified Parent Educator is an experienced clinician who helps clients discover new ways to resolve a variety of challenges and bring more happiness and peace into their lives.