‘Tis the season to be jolly … but what if you’re not feeling so festive? While the winter months can bring warmth, inspiration and good cheer, they can also be a difficult time.
Part of the problem: People are expected to be happy for the holidays. When you aren’t – whether because of hardships in your life, seasonal depression, or run-of-the-mill stress and anxiety – it can feel like you’re bringing down the mood for everyone.
“Forced happiness makes us feel more sad, upset and lonely because we are faking our feelings,” said Dr. Judith Orloff for The New York Times. “Putting on a false front to impress others or prove how fine we are can make us feel like a total impostor.”
At the end of an especially trying year, it’s even more important to care for your emotional health:
- Reach out to loved ones. Feeling lonely “sometimes makes us want to withdraw,” says therapist Kyler Shumway. “We feel like we’re a burden on people, and we assume that other people don’t want to hear from us or spend time with us.” Instead, make an effort to stay connected – even if that’s just a fifteen-minute Zoom chat over a glass of wine.
- Accept what you feel – good or bad. There’s no single “right” way to feel, act, or celebrate the holidays – and pressuring yourself to be happy won’t work in the long run. Focus on accepting things as they are, not as they’ve “always been” or “should be.” You may find it difficult at first, but it’s a skill you can improve with practice – or using tools like meditation or journaling.
- Build on a healthy foundation. Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and staying active during the day are keystones of a healthy lifestyle. But did you know they can also bolster your emotional wellness? Exercise, nutrition and sleep help regulate neurotransmitters that influence your mood and memory – so be sure to give your body the care it needs.
- Live in the present. Ask what you’re feeling right now, and what you really need. Are you missing family? Give them a call. Need some fresh air? Take a stroll outside. Feeling glum about old traditions? Try starting new ones: make handmade holiday cards, host a virtual gift-opening party, or create a collage of family photos.
Last – but certainly not least – don’t hesitate to ask for help. Just like going to the doctor or dentist for a check-up, scheduling a call with a licensed mental health counselor can be a responsible way to care for your emotional health.
As a Life Fulfilling Community®, The Glenridge is committed to creating a positive environment where members can flourish in mind, body and spirit. For more information about what life is like in our community – and our upcoming Northside Neighborhood – contact our Life Planning Team here, or give us a call at 941-552-5338. You can also visit our other blog posts or find us on Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!