Despite my plethora of blessings, when the holidays roll around, there is a dark cloud that looms over my desire for Christmas cheer. Like birthday celebrations that have me secretly crying in the bathroom or simple surprises from loved ones that make my tummy go into knots, there is something about receiving at the holidays that bubbles my blues up to the surface.
Maybe it’s missing loved ones and longing to be once again gathered around the dinner table, or sadness for those that don’t even have dinner on their table, or a good ol’ yearning for the childlike innocence of Christmases past.
While I am yet to discover its root issue, it’s comforting to know there are plenty of others also not feeling festive this year. The shorter and darker days of winter (hello, seasonal affective disorder) in conjunction with a pandemic, have many feeling out of sorts. One study states that “Anxiety and loneliness are most prevalent among people who are aged from 25 to 34, at between 31% and 40%. People who are out of work also struggle more than other groups: 47% say they’ve felt stressed, 42% depressed and 39% anxious.”
So for those that don’t find this week to be the most wonderful time of the year, here are some mindful tools to make this time of the year a bit more, well — wonderful.
Embrace Family Traditions and Create New Ones
If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s to get creative. Whether the pandemic has kept your holiday plans strictly inner circle, or you’re locked down in your apartment, there are ways to keep family traditions alive.
Let’s be honest, in-person get-togethers cannot be replicated, but Zoom and FaceTime provide some semblance of real-time connection. If time zones aren’t lining up with your fam and friends, still do them yourself. The act of repeated ritual is a powerful signifier of time and place, and reminds us that perhaps this Christmas we might be alone, but it will come again next year, and every year after that.
Let Your Inner Child Shine
Although my youthful days of Santa believing retired long ago, keeping the magic of Christmas alive is vital. Bring out your inner child, turn up the Christmas tunes, and shake off the holiday blues (aka you can finally blast the Michael Bublé Christmas album to your heart’s desire).
Adults tend to treat themselves with increased drinking and heavy foods at this time of year; try to balance their effects with some more playful movement during these bleaker days. If you’re looking for suggestions, The Chakra Blog invites you to dance, get outside, and connect with the earth by playing in the snow or spending time in the sun (depending on where you are).
As I’ve gotten older, the paradigm of Christmas has certainly shifted from receiving to giving. One of the best parts of this season is gifting — and it needn’t be something tangible.
Supporting others during difficult times is a lovely tool to shoo the blues away and radical empathy is an incredible antidote to the anxiety of uncertainty. Call your grandma, mail holiday cards to your friends — for me, something about helping seniors at the grocery store always puts a smile on my face.
Take Care of Yourself
“For many, the holidays are a marker in time, a reminder of how far we feel we have or haven’t come on our journey. And more often than not, they stand, like a hall of mirrors, as projection screens of our self-worth.” — Danielle Beinstein
Even if you don’t suffer from holiday blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder, 2020 has been a tough year for everybody. On top of all that we’ve faced collectively, for many the holidays are also the busiest time of year with work schedules ramping up before the break, road trips and interstate travel, and all the errands that come with hosting. So now, more than ever, it’s important you carve out some time to take good care of yourself. Even if it’s as simple as taking a minute to acknowledge that you are here — you did it, you survived an unpredictable, emotionally turbulent rollercoaster of a year, and have come out the other side with a renewed sense of appreciation for loved ones, slower living, health, democracy, and the resilience of the human spirit.
If Emily isn’t hitting the trails for a long run, or nuzzled up in a nook writing poetry, she is most likely posted up at THE FULLEST HQ. She is a collector of unconventional trinkets and a lover of all things found in Erewhon Market. She is a proud Loyola Marymount University summa cum laude graduate and the community + marketing manager at THE FULLEST. Find her on the ‘gram here.