For many people, the upcoming holiday season is their favorite time of year. I get it, there’s a lot to love about the magic of Christmas lights, holiday Starbucks drinks, and the overall feel of the holiday season. Large family gatherings for a yummy Thanksgiving dinner, lots of fun conversations, and love in the air.
It seems like the holidays come earlier and earlier each year. With the passing of Halloween, almost immediately stores are stocking their shelves with Christmas-themed toys and candy. But what about the people who maybe don’t see this as the most wonderful time of the year?
I know the idea of Christmas time, for a lot of people, is hard. Oftentimes, feelings are overlooked and people are told “it’s the holiday season, cheer up!”. But, it isn’t that simple. Let’s not forget– life is hard. For so many people and for so many reasons. After all, according to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people feel that their stress levels increase during the holiday season. Even Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for a lot of people. Large gatherings can cause anxiety for many, and it’s not easy to communicate with family members that you don’t necessarily see eye to eye with. It’s completely normal to not want to attend these events and gatherings.
Going home for winter break after developing a routine for yourself in college is hard, and honestly not an easy transition. There’s no handbook on the transition from no rules, making your own meals, and pretty much living however you want to being away from your college friends and in a lot of cases, that feeling of independence. Winter break is long, and being away from your friends or significant other in college is hard. Remember to make time for the things that make you happy, even if they’re far away! Spend time with your family if you’re close with them, enjoy the time with your pets if you’ve got them, and don’t be afraid to prioritize yourself when need to make the break an enjoyable experience. After all, it’s supposed to be a break!
If you’re anything like me, you need to do a better job at validating (and normalizing) not being in a Christmas mood! The “holiday blues” are a real thing. If you are someone who is struggling to get into the holiday season, don’t worry! It’s completely normal. I’m here to offer some advice on how to get through this holiday season when you’re not feeling like fully engulfing into the Christmas spirit.
Move your body!
There’s no better feeling than moving your body, especially during the holiday season. Get outside and declutter your head! Go on a hike, a walk around the block, or even a swim in a heated recreational pool. Getting into motion outside is not only a great way to feel good, but you can also get a much needed break from all of the Christmas commotion. I know that exercise sounds like a lame way to feel better, but personally, I’ve never felt worse after moving my body.
Stand up for yourself.
If you need a break during a family gathering or a holiday event, take the break! If you just need a minute to relax and gather your feelings, that’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with stepping back, practicing some mindfulness, and preparing to re-enter the chaos of family gatherings. Coming from a large family, I know that sometimes you just need a minute to yourself. Do whatever you need to do to help yourself feel better!
Get into a routine!
Routines are everything for me. When I go home for break, I am lost. I need direction. Even being without schoolwork is hard for me, so establishing a routine is really important. Find time to do things that you enjoy! Go to a local coffee shop and journal or take a nature walk and look at the beautiful trees. Wake up at the same time everyday, and try to go to bed around the same time. This has helped me stay sane during the breaks!
Try something new.
One thing that I did over winter break last year was hot yoga. I had never even tried yoga before, let alone hot yoga. But I’m so glad I did – I had a really great time and found a new hobby! I definitely recommend trying something new while you’re home for break and face those inevitable feelings of boredom. Whether that be a new trail to hike on, an art/cooking class, or hot yoga. You can find a new passion, while also curing boredom at the same time!
Winter and Thanksgiving break are hard for a lot of people, as is the overall Christmas season in general. Please just know, it’s completely normal and okay to not participate in any holiday or family events. It can cause overwhelming anxiety for a lot of people, and honestly, the holiday season is just not for everyone. And that is okay!
There’s no problem with taking time for yourself and your peace of mind. If you need a break, take a break. Reach out to someone you love and trust, and know that your feelings are valid and deserve to be heard. Take advantage of this time off for yourself, and do things that fuel your own fire and make you happy. Regardless of the holiday season, just enjoy being you! You don’t have to celebrate like everyone else, or go to fancy events to have a good winter season. At the end of the day, this is YOUR break, so do what feels right to YOU.