For many of the women in this community, the holidays are not easy. We may be facing a holiday without a loved one. We might be apart from our families for whatever reason.
We might be having a good holiday season but find ourselves feeling a little blah on and off for its duration and aren’t really sure why.
Here are three things that you can do for yourself this holiday season, especially if you are struggling a bit. They aren’t necessarily easy, but they raise self-awareness. And self-awareness will help you immensely as you navigate the more difficult times in your life.
We may feel sad during the holidays because things have changed and the holidays “aren’t like they used to be.” But, often, when we take a realistic look back at what the holidays used to be, we realize there was always stress or some sort of negative feelings involved at some point, no matter how happy we remember them to be.
There is a phenomenon that occurs in us called Fading Affect Bias. This affects how we hold onto negative memories versus positive ones. Essentially, as time goes by, the negative memories fade or disappear completely, while the positive ones remain.
I found as I reflected on holidays past, I started off thinking about how happy my childhood Christmases were at my grandmother’s. The tree, family dinners, my grandfather playing the piano, and the presents.
I went on to fondly reflect on holidays when I was raising my boys. Shopping for gifts, their joy, decorations, and Christmas parties.
But, as I really dove into the reflecting, I remembered the stress as a kid going to my grandmother’s. My mom was alcoholic and there was a strong possibility that she would get drunk and ruin the holiday. I spent a lot of time monitoring everyone, even as a young child. I loved the holidays. But they were not without stress.
As I thought about our Christmases when my boys were growing up, it was similar. We had wonderful Christmases. But they were not without stress over not having time to do all of the things I wanted to do, concerns around money, and worries about family interactions and dynamics during the holiday.
Realizing that there have always been issues during the holidays can help us put this season into perspective.
Generally, our “holiday feelings” are an extension of how we are feeling overall in our lives from day to day, in whatever phase we are in. They are often intensified with the holiday input from friends, family, and social media.
Feeling negative feelings is difficult for many of us on this side of 50. We often try to push them down because they are unpleasant. Many of us have had core beliefs throughout our lives that it’s “bad” or “ungrateful” to feel negatively.
We are told everywhere to practice gratitude as a solution for being sad or angry about a situation.
But things happen in life that make us sad or angry and those feelings are a NORMAL reaction to that situation! It is normal to feel sad when you aren’t going to see your family over the holidays.
So, allow yourself to feel the feelings. Pushing them down only causes more issues, both emotionally and physically.
However, if these feelings don’t go away or are becoming an everyday part of life that keeps you from doing the things that you want to do, it may be worthwhile to talk to a professional. It’s okay to feel sad for a few days because you miss your family, but if the sadness permeates everything, it can be beneficial to seek help.
This is the time in our lives, overall, where we should be sitting back and thinking about how we want to spend our days.
What do we want to do for ourselves?
And that should happen during the holiday season as well.
What would you like to continue to do this holiday season? What do you not feel like doing? I’ve talked to women who don’t feel like shopping and have decided to give their families checks or gift cards. Women who have stopped sending holiday cards. Women who have traveled during the holidays for the first time.
We are at a different phase in our lives than we have been before, and the holidays are bound to have some changes as well.
Take some time this holiday season to reflect on your “holiday feelings” and traditions. And don’t be afraid to start taking small steps towards adjusting what you’d like to.
How are you feeling this holiday season? What changes would you like to see, if any, in your holiday traditions? How is this season different for you?