The Holidays Are Coming- Overcoming the Holiday Blues!

By Stephanie Barbee | Nov 21, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Canva

The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming. For some people, that stirs up positive emotions. It makes a smile come across their face and they can feel the tickle of excitement running through their body as they start to imagine the sights, sounds, and smells of the holidays. For some people this is the most wonderful time of the year!
For others, there is a sense of dread. There is a heaviness that overcomes them that could be related to a number of things, including family gatherings, coping with loss, managing finances that may have been impacted by the pandemic, and much more. For some, the expectations that are placed on them from within or from other people around the holidays can make this a time of anxiety, dread, worry, or a mixture of emotions that are hard to name. It can feel isolating if you are not “filled with cheer” while others are filled with so much joy and anticipation.
Here are 3 methods you can use to evaluate and overcome stress during the holidays.
1) Are you overcommitted? It can be easy to feel obligated to every social event a person is invited to. The fact is we don’t have to attend every one of those events.

a. If you need to say no…DO IT! Other people are more understanding than you know. Even for those who aren’t understanding, giving yourself grace to do what is needed for you is important.

b. Don’t wish the season away. It can be easy to want to blink and have it back to spring or summer or some other preferred part of the year. Try to take time for yourself during the season. It might be a special bubble bath or yoga class or movie night, anything that is enjoyable for you.

2) Carrying on traditions. For many, there are parts of the holidays that are steeped in tradition. It might be a favorite meal or dish, a special decoration, or baked goods for friends and family.
a. Don’t get so caught up in tradition that it consumes everything. If it feels like too much stress to carry on the tradition exactly as it had been, break away from it.

b. Don’t feel obligated to live up to the past. Create new stress-free (or stress less) traditions that feel more manageable for you.

c. If you need help, ask for it! It might be creating a meal potluck style or using more store bought ingredients.

3) Finding the perfect gift. Remember most people don’t expect you to go to the ends of the Earth to find the perfect gift. People are generally appreciative of whatever they get.

a. Skip the wrapping. Save time and money, but the key is being creative. Consider giving gifts that could be used throughout the year such as a free babysitting coupon, help with yardwork, or any other special thing that could be done together throughout the year.

b. Shop online. This is probably a no-brainer for most, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be important to remember shipping constraints and the current challenges with supplies and plan early.
One of the keys to busting your holiday related stress is determining what the stressors are and planning for them in advance. Take the time to look at the full picture, determine what you have the capacity for (leaving yourself some extra space, just in case), and plan for what you can manage. The holidays may evoke different feelings for different people, but it can be manageable for us all. It’s just like eating an elephant…taking a little bite sized piece at a time and when you look up, the elephant (or in this case the holidays) will be gone before you know it!

About The Author
Stephanie Barbee is a Clinical social worker in Missouri. She serves Black Queer people who seek to understand their identities, overcome traumatic experiences, or explore how to move through a world that sees them as invisible.She also develops courses, trainings, and does speaking engagements. To connect with Stephanie feel free to check out her profile on Clinicians Of Color’s Website.


Stephanie Barbee

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