Having been in the insurance business for many years, I’ve known stories and incidents that have made the holidays an especially difficult time for families and individuals. The truth is, the holidays are not always filled with joyous occasions. And as much as we try to keep the holiday spirit in tact, we end up adding more pressure to ourselves, making us even more anxious and unhappy.
The most important thing to know is that you’re not alone.
The holidays can be extra difficult for those who are dealing with trauma, an illness, a loss of a loved-one, a recent breakup, relationship issues with family or a partner, a tragedy, financial stress, or other high pressure situations. Rather than bringing cheer, the holidays can trigger painful memories or stir unrealistic expectations. There’s no way out except to go “through” the blues. We may not be able to avoid the holiday blues, but we can at least manage how we respond and react to our difficult situations.
The other important thing to keep in mind is to remove the pressure of the holidays off yourself. Don’t get too caught up with “dates on the calendar”. It’s often not worth your health and peace of mind.
Here are some helpful and tools to help you push through the holidays when it’s not so happy:
#1 – Don’t get caught up with the hype–social media and commercial media.
Yes, it’s essential to be able to spread the holiday cheer and to genuinely reflect your own happiness to others. But sometimes social media and the commercial portrayal of the holidays can be taunting, misleading, and incomplete. Don’t get too hung up on what you see. We each have our unique stories. Beware of the negative influence that media can bring.
#3 – Surround yourself with people who bring you good energy.
Maybe it’s your best friend from college, your sister, next-door neighbor, or an acquaintance you met at the gym. Make the conscious effort to hang with people who contribute value to your life. On the contrary, know that it’s also okay to take space from those who bring you down.
If part of your holiday blues is not having anyone to share the holidays with, then challenge yourself to find a community towards which you can contribute your time and help. This part may be a longer-term fix, but perhaps it’s time to recognize the responsibility you must take for this area in your life, if being un-lonely is what you wish.
#4 – Set reasonable expectations for yourself and don’t overbook yourself to appease others.
It’s one thing to be giving of your time, when you have your self to give, but it’s another thing to spin your wheels just for the sake of the holidays when it’s not adding value to your current situation. It’s about finding balance between nurturing yourself and giving to others. It can be as simple as opting out of hosting the party at your home this year. It’s okay–it doesn’t mean you are a scrooge.
#5 – Eat healthily.
When you’re depressed, it’s easy to waste away to easy access fast-food and unhealthy eating patterns. For example, there are a lot of leading arguments for why too much refined sugar can contribute to depression and anxiety. When you’re minding what you put in your body, you’re also practicing self-care. This quick advice is not just for the holidays, but for your everyday. Nourish your body with intentional food.
#6 – Find ways to be helpful to others.
If you have the physical capacity to be helpful to others, this is one way you can manage your own depression and stress. If you can carve out the time, look for meaningful ways to be helpful to your family members, friends, or your local community or body of faith. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and letting yourself drown in self pity. If you have the wherewithal, challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and contribute your gifts, skills and resources to others.
#7 – Challenge yourself to focus on the things you can be grateful for.
According to UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, making a concerted effort towards gratitude can “increase your well-being and life satisfaction.” He argues that even writing brief reflections of gratitude in a journal can make a big difference. When you focus on the positive things in your life, you create an opening for more positive things to flow through your life. Staying in a negative zone will keep you in a negative state of mind, so focus on the things you are grateful for.
The miracle and beauty of the holiday season is that it sets a reminder for us to practice all the things we should be doing throughout the year. It serves as a great time to reset, to reflect on life, self, and family and all the things around you. This holiday season, push through the blues by managing through it. Be kind to yourself, don’t feel beat because you feel the holiday blues. Push through it mindfully.
About Ryan Ruffcorn
Ryan grew up in Keokuk, graduated from Keokuk Senior High, and started his agency in Keokuk from scratch in 2003 after having worked for one of the largest international accounting firms, KPMG, LLP.
Ryan is hardworking; his loyal and trustworthy character is exemplified by the way he does business. He thoroughly enjoys helping clients through the insurance buying process to secure coverage for their most valuable assets.