I’ve never really talked about it on here, but as an adult I’ve gotten the holiday blues. It’s one of the happiest times of the year, yet I often feel alone and isolated even from my closest family and friends. I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, that’s why I’m writing this. I am seeing vulnerable posts from readers about how SAD (seasonal affective disorder) has been affecting them. You all are so brave for sharing your story and being open. You are not alone.
For me, the story started about two years ago. That time that I wasn’t blogging and was experiencing my first depression. I didn’t have money for presents, I didn’t know who I was and had didn’t want to be around people. Last year, I was in an extremely different place, but the lingering feelings of exhaustion, burnout and wanting to be alone around Christmas remained. I adore my family, but we have a lot of Christmas. Christmas Eve, Christmas, extended family Christmas, mother/daughter lunch and a lot of togetherness. Only one of my sisters lives out of state, so when she’s here, we shove a year of visiting into a week. This is the best but can really overwhelm me. (And I found out, overwhelm my visiting sister!)
I told my family last year that Christmas was hard on me and that I was going to chose what events to go to. This sounds easy, but it was not easy. It’s so important to set boundaries to prevent overextending yourself. I actually felt worse about the guilt I had about setting boundaries last year. I wondered if it would just have been better to say yes to everything (friends, family, work, etc) than to deal with the stupid self-imposed guilt I was experiencing.
Anyway, that was SO last year that I didn’t know how to deal with holiday blues. This year, I feel more prepared. Which is good since you know, it’s like mid-December.
My Holiday Blues Gameplan
Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself and Others
Yo. Life is not a Hallmark movie and you’re not going to get gushing praise as you walk through the door (although WHY this doesn’t happen to me I don’t know). Obvious statement, but I think we have a very romanticized version of what holidays actually are. They are loud, messy, sometimes not super grateful and a little awkward.
Even more than that, little things need to be realistic. My friends would LAUGH at me saying set realistic expectations for myself. Scratch that, they are laughing as they read this. But a great example was last year. I took a calligraphy class so I could write everyone’s name perfectly in gold on the kraft paper I bought.
Okay first off, Kraft paper is expensive and does not bend at all. AT ALL! I love gift wrapping but I hate the actually process of wrapping. So I blocked an entire night to wrap everything, eat Chipotle and be fa-la-la-la-merry. 45 minutes in, I wrapped two presents, had to re-wrap because my hands were shaking so bad trying to write the stupid name. IT HAD BEEN 45 MINUTES. TWO PRESENTS 45 MINUTES!
Needless to say, that will not be happening again this year. Everyone is getting a gift wrapped in NORMAL WRAPPING PAPER (like this) and a stupid gift tag I do with zero pressure but in pretty pen. I can still have pretty packages, just more realistic. AHEM.
And that my friends, is what it’s like to be me. Even wrapping Christmas presents is intense and well, I’m not setting myself up for that disappointment again.
Commit to What You Can Do
We have to watch Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, Christmas Vacation, go see all the lights, make Christmas cookies, have a freaking good time, go buy presents, don’t gain holiday weight, visit friends and family and DO. ALL. THE. THINGS!
Okay, you can do all those things, but like, if they don’t happen. They don’t happen. I have a list of things I want to do this Christmas and also a plan for them. Some of them are have-to do, other ones are secondary. Breaking out what I can realistically do has already helped me better enjoy this season and avoid my holiday blues.
Plus I love a list.
Obviously I’ve talked about self-care before, but I’m always learning more about what it is I need. In the winter it’s even more important that I exercise because with the shorter days, I find myself not being as active. I legitimately do find myself breaking down when I don’t have exercise to regulate and provide stress-relief. I also find myself reading and burning a candle and enjoying down time.
Sometimes I do feel bad that there’s a million other things that could be done, but sometimes you gotta take four hours to get yourself through the next 40 hours.
I’m also learning about coding in WordPress for an upcoming project which is giving me an indoor activity that I can do regardless of weather. Winter reallyyyy makes me want to go to bed early, if you can’t tell. Finding new hobbies has been really something I’ve been working on.