Tis the season to be jolly? Not for everyone. If it’s not jolly for you, you’re not alone and there is nothing wrong with you.
The top reason why it’s hard? Social comparison. You look around at all the fun that others are having, or pretending to have, and your life sucks. You check Facebook and note all the fun everybody else seems to be having. If you’re kind of lonely or disconnected anyway, you tend to get even more so and you note that, frequently.
Your family is nowhere near what the images look like in the media. You cringe with the very thought of going home for the holidays. In fact, there might not be a home to go home to.
Where do people get all the money they’re spending anyway? The stores are jammed. You not only have no extra money now, but there’s nothing coming up in 2016 that looks like its going to change that.
What To Do?
If you can just master the social comparison piece, you can get through it. And that’s 100% a result of your thinking. That’s right! Change your thinking, change your life! In this case, it’s true.
Grab your thoughts about how lonely you are, how it isn’t fair, how much everyone else has and how happy they are — within the first 2-3 seconds you have them. Stomp on them with all your energy. Make up something to say that helps you get past those thoughts and onto something better. Maybe a prayer you know – maybe the serenity prayer (a good one to memorize). If you can start to break the habit of social comparison masquerading as self-pity, you’re half way there!
Here are other pointers that really work.
1. Choose where you want to be. There are no rules about where you have to go. If its toxic for you around your nuclear family or your in-laws, you have permission to switch it out. You might want to tell them why (diplomatically) if you have the courage. If you don’t want to say why, you don’t need to. Just say you prefer to do something else. No-one can argue with your ‘wants.’
If the holidays jolt an old memory that you can’t shake – like you break down in tears when you think of your Golden Retriever who just passed away – remember every time you put that silly Santa hat on him? Paradoxically, maybe you need to be around puppies or somebody else’s dog. Does going to a certain family member’s house trigger bad feelings – remember the fight you had there last year? Go somewhere else. Meet in a neutral third place. Make changes that make you feel better.
2. Alcohol is your best friend, right? At least you have your eggnog. I wish it weren’t so, but alcohol is a depressant. Whatever sad feelings you have will double with every rum and eggnog, along with your waist size. Show yourself more love this year. Drink tea (Tazo Orange is good). Really, I promise it’s better.
3. Dump the stressors. Parties can be stressful for the introverted. I’ve learned to cope by volunteering to help, going for only a short time at the beginning so I can establish territory. If you follow my advice in #2, you’ll walk around with a glass of bubbly 7-up, who will know?
Buying presents can be stressful. They seem so forced, so mandatory, not the spirit you’re going for at all. Shake it up a bit by giving a donation to Liga International :) or Heifer or the recipient’s favorite charity. Or do a White Elephant exchange. Make a collage of their lives with you, gather all your favorite pics and send them to Apple books.
4. Start Self-Care Now. I know, if you’re already mildly depressed you don’t care. You don’t have the energy. You don’t feel like it. And you don’t think you’re worth it. Been there. But listen, if you can just do ONE thing on this list, just one, it will probably set off a chain of dominoes and things will get easier. Feeling like doing it is irrelevant here. You are way past feeling like doing it, you just have to do it.
If you were going to wait until 2016 to begin the Year of Self Mastery (that’s what the year is, really!) why not start your regime of self care now? Start small.
a. Use that electric toothbrush that’s just sitting there. Floss. For example. Choose something else if you want, just make it easy.
b. Make up a healthy food list and go shopping in the morning when all those happy people buying for their large happy families aren’t in the store.
c. Self-nurture. Choose one thing you love to do, and just do it even though you don’t feel like it. See #a above.
d. Make a list of 3 things you’re grateful for. Settle for one.
e. Sit still for 5 minutes. Repeat a random phrase like Om Shanti and see the red sun sinking in the horizon.
f. Try your hardest not to check Facebook. It’s only hurting you. Why lie in poison ivy if it itches you? Get out of it. Why drink arsenic if it poisons you? Stop. Why put a scary picture of a monster on your bedroom wall if it freaks you out every night? Take it down.
g. Bite the bullet and call or text somebody who you know likes you. Remember you don’t have to want to do it, you just have to do it. If you put a comment in the space below, I will answer you. That’s a start!
So I won’t wish you Happy Holidays. That’s too much pressure. I will wish that you have the holidays of your choice, and I hope that you choose well.