We can feel that "fear of missing out" about so many life experiences, and the holiday season is no different. This time of year can bring up soooo many different feelings, even within the same person. Some people have a childlike sense of wonder with the traditions and lights and parties. Others might enjoy the festivities but dread the stress of getting it all done. Still others can be left longing for more or hurting because they don’t have the people or relationships or traditions they want in their lives at this time of year.
Dear friends, this article is for those of you in this latter category.
First, let me give you a big ol’ metaphorical hug. It’s hard. And, it hurts. It’s always rough to not have what we want in our lives, but it’s especially hard around the holidays with all the pomp and circumstance our culture throws around with them. For what it’s worth, just know that my heart and my spirit are with you, and I wish you peace and kindness during this time.
And, I know there’s often no easy solution and no one-size-fits-all approach. You might be longing for more in your life because a meaningful relationship has ended or because you haven’t found the meaningful connection that you desire with a partner or friends or family. You might also feel the sting because you don’t have access to the kind of holiday experience you desire. You may even just feel the hurt more this time of year because you’re grieving that you’ve never gotten to have the kind of family you wish for. For all of these hurts, there’s no easy answer, and sometimes there’s not even a salve to fully numb the pain.
But, I do believe it’s possible to ease the suffering and to be good to ourselves in the midst of it. Just how you do this is all about you and what you’d like.
Some guidelines are:
Consider what you’d like to do with this time. Do you want to find some ways to enjoy the season, or do you want to just keep living life as you would the rest of the year? Or, would you like to take a trip?
- If you want to partake, you might pick out a couple of local events to check out, like driving or walking around to look at holiday lights (Check out last year's list of best spots in the area), taking in a holiday-themed play (Capital Stage and B Street Theatre have some fun options) or musical performance or the Nutcracker ballet or watching some classic movies (The Crest is showing several on the big screen).
- If you just want to live your life, you might put extra focus into hobbies or activities you enjoy or want to learn. Might be a good time to start teaching yourself how to knit or to practice French. Or, you might just decide to indulge yourself with good meals, a massage, some nice wine, yoga, travel, etc. The focus doesn’t even have to just be on “fun.”
- You may decide this is a good time to tackle that home project or to clean out your closest. Organizational or project-focused tasks can feel really satisfying to tackle, especially if you have some time off from work that you’re not sure how to fill.
Give yourself some opportunity to connect with others. This can be texting with friends near or far, having that Skype call with a family member or even getting involved in some volunteering for the holidays. If the people in your life are busy for the “biggie” days (think Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s), try to make plans with them for other surrounding days. Laughing or chatting with a friend or colleague or relative is usually good for the soul. Word of advice—it might actually feel better to stay off social media if you’re feeling down. There’s research that shows that if a person is in a neutral or negative mood social media use tends to bring their mood even lower.
And, always, always, please try to be kind to yourself. You deserve it. Everyone’s life experience (and thus their holiday experience) varies, and there’s no right way to be or to live. I invite you to let go of (or at least loosen your grip on) all the societal crap and pressures, and just focus taking care of you and allow space for what that looks like and for it to change, possibly from year to year. You deserve to be well.
Sending my kindest thoughts and warmest wishes to you,
If you'd like some extra support during this time, we'd love to be there for you.