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3 Steps to Take When Holidays Are Tough

By Leslie Moon December 14, 2022 Lifestyle

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.

Take a REAL Look Back at Holidays Past

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.

Allow Yourself to Feel the Feelings

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.

Do What Feels Good and Right for YOU This Holiday Season

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.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

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?

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A wonderful ‘shake up’ article. The road of life is bumpy are times. In 2019 our property and all our belongings were destroyed by bush fire. Rebuilding during Covid was a challenge – and not for the faint hearted. Then came the limitation of building supplies and increased costs. Which in short to improve our situation. Since 2019 every Christmas has been filled with castrophe. My husband and I have been together since we were 17yrs old. He has chronic Kidney disease and I have a rare spinal disease which inhibits walking, lifting and standing. Our greatest joy is bond of love and friendship. We are stoney broke. To turn the tide of loss, I have spent the last week cooking up some christmas treats to lighten our spirit. A small christmas pudding. Christmas icecream. Shortbread. Chocolate coconut biscuits. Boiled Christmas cake. Rum balls. Home made ginger beer. Salmon Quiche. Wholemeal raspberry muffins. Food that can be stored and enjoyed over the holiday season. My husband has organised some unseen movies to watch. We have set up a small Christmas tree and a few decorations. We are both determined to avoid the Christmas blues.


well i have decided not to run around for gifts and if i feel like it i will give something after new years. also i would like to not be depended on at age 76. it’s hard for me to not feel guilty for not helping loved ones bc i was prep as a child to take care of this one or that one! i need to learn to try to get over that feeling but at this age i don’t know how.


Hi Teresa! Yeah, our “ways” aren’t just going to magically disappear – we’ve been doing these things our whole lives. But, give yourself some grace. What would you be telling your friend to do in your situation? We aren’t any good to those who rely on us if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. I hope you have a good holiday!


I LOVE this idea of sharing our REAL holiday experience. I’ve been divorced almost eight years and started over at age 60! My financial situation can’t compare to what it was when married. My son, almost 30, expects the big deal Christmas we used to have. I have been very emotional lately, trying to launch my 24 year old alone. I am also struggling trying to accept that I can’t spend what I used to on gifts. Sometimes I wish there were no more holidays. I appreciate this article! It’s helping decide to have the Christmas I want. Maybe I’ll do some nice things for myself during this season, like plan a little getaway. Thank you.


Karen, I LOVE the idea of taking a little getaway just for you! Do it!


Great article. I have memories of many fun holidays filled with family. Well, except for the year between church and grandma’s when my father announced he was leaving after Christmas (he stayed). Or the year my husband died suddenly 7 days before Christmas. Or last year at this time when I sat holding my father’s hand as he passed away after many months of hospice care in my home. Family is now gone or far-flung. There is no longer the fun, excited feelings around the season. What is the constant that made me happy year after year? Every version of The Christmas Carol. Silent Night on Christmas Eve and Joy to the World on Christmas morning. So, I will go to church, watch movies, eat the food I want and decorate, or not. There will be a time when I think back on the difficult times, but then move on to the present.


Enjoy your holiday, Lee! I love how you’ve identified the constants each year that have brought you joy for the holidays! I may add that step to next year’s article!

The Author

Leslie is the founder of Life Balance After 50 where she uses her background in counseling and behavior analysis to help women navigate their goals and dreams after 50. She created a free mini workbook along with a guide and a full-length workbook for women who are looking to redefine and find joy and purpose in their second half of life. Contact Leslie at Leslie@lifebalanceafter50.com.

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