What to do When you Don't Feel Very Festive

Every year, for so many people, the holiday season is not “the most wonderful time of the year.” In fact, for some, it may be the hardest time of the year. If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, you’ll know that feeling when everything festive reminds you of what you’ve lost. And if you’re someone who struggles with mental health issues, you probably understand that winter can often be the most difficult season. The truth is, sometimes illness, grief, mental health issues, financial struggles, or other negative life events can get in the way of the ability to enjoy the holiday season.

A few years ago, I was in that position. Someone I loved was sick, and the fear of losing them along with my own mental health issues were making it difficult for me to embrace what is usually my favourite season of the year. I didn’t feel like making gingerbread houses or singing Christmas carols. I spent most of my break from school hidden in my room. The worst part of feeling like this is how isolating it can be. Everywhere you look, people are celebrating, bunt it doesn’t always feel like there’s a reason to celebrate.

As someone who has experienced the negative side of the holiday season, I know that the way to get through it is to engage in acts of self-care. If you’re someone who is struggling this December, I have compiled a list of ways to take care of yourself when you’re feeling less than festive.

Make yourself a playlist

Source: Matthew Henry

During the holiday season, it’s hard to escape the ruthlessly optimistic festive soundtrack that is playing everywhere you go. If you get tired of hearing Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” make yourself a soothing playlist with some of your favourite non-holiday songs. Listen to it in your car, as you fall asleep, or while you're relaxing in the bath.  

Have a DIY spa day

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Need to relax during the busiest time of the year? Treat yourself to a spa day! Grab a winter-themed bath bomb (you can even make one yourself!) and a good book, and take a relaxing bath. Or maybe do a face mask, or paint your nails, or combat winter dryness by trying out a homemade lip scrub recipe.

Binge-watch a TV series

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Spend your time off during the holiday season by streaming a new series. You can finally start Game of Thrones like you’ve been meaning to for a while, or maybe re-watch one of your old favourites, like The Office. Consider watching with a friend, family member, or significant other as a way to bond during the holiday season. If you do want to watch something holiday-related, check out this list of holiday episodes or this list of holiday movies to check out.

Spend time with your loved ones

Source: Matthew Henry

The holidays are a time for being with the people you love. While it is also important to take time for yourself, sometimes the best medicine is enjoying time with your friends, family, or significant other. Find activities that you can do together with the people that are important to you. Grab a group of friends and go bowling, or see the new Star Wars movie, or maybe have a board game night with your family.

Read a book

Source: Matthew Henry

If you have some time off over the holidays, take this time to catch up on some reading. Head to the bookstore or your local library and pick up that mystery novel you’ve been meaning to read. Whether you curl up in your favourite chair or pour a hot bath to read, it’s a great way to unwind this holiday season.

Enjoy the outdoors

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Make the best of the cold weather this winter by getting lots of fresh air. Take a lovely winter hike, go tobogganing with some friends, or have a snowman building competition with your family. Fresh air and exercise will improve your mental health and give you a fun way to de-stress during the holidays.

Get yourself a gift

Source: Sarah Pflug

It mind sound silly, but a great way to care for yourself is to treat yourself to something nice. Is there a pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on for a while? Do you need a new jacket? How about new makeup, or a pair of concert tickets? If money is tight, make yourself something! Bake a pie or knit yourself a scarf. Don’t feel guilty for spending time or money on yourself – you deserve it!

It is important to remember that you are not alone this holiday season. You don’t have to feel pressure to be festive or celebrate, especially if you are struggling with loss, or mental health issues, or another obstacle that is getting in the way of letting you feel the Christmas spirit. Get lots of sleep, drink lots of eggnog, and take care of yourself this winter.