Holiday StressNormalizing Holiday Stress and Heartache

Some holidays are wonderful. Others are wonderful and stressful. Many are plain stressful. And some are deeply painful. This is what’s real.

Our society, advertisers, and social media tell us only about shiny, wonderful, magazine-worthy holidays. They convince us that everyone besides us has a happy family, abundant resources, perfect health, and a soulmate to celebrate with every single year.

If you believe this myth and compare your life to it, you’ll soon feel like there’s something wrong with you. You’ll come to believe that you’re so personally lacking, unloved, or unlucky that you’re the one person having an unhappy holiday.

We’ll all have happy and unhappy holidays.

Over the course of our lifetimes, we’re all going to have some wonderful and woeful holiday seasons. Some seasons will be celebrations of love, togetherness, and joy. Others will be touched by grief, sadness, and yearning. All of them are a normal and expected part of living a life.

One holiday I celebrated with a precious new baby and one I spent aching over the reality that it would be my mother’s last. I’ve had too little money to cook a holiday meal. I’ve cooked a lavish meal for twenty. I was deliriously in love in one season and suffered soul-ripping agony after a divorce in another. And I’ve had some ‘meh’ holidays where some things were nice and others irritating.

Whatever the tone of your holiday this year, accept it completely and without judgment.

If you’re in a wonderful season, celebrate it. Don’t play small because you feel guilty or unworthy of so much good. You’re worthy of every single fabulous thing, and no one benefits from you holding back. Lead the way. Magnify and multiply your good fortune.

If this season is tough, accept it too. Acknowledge how you feel and sit with those feelings without judging them or you. Be there for yourself and give yourself compassion for what you’re enduring. Tell yourself that you forgive yourself and that this experience, like all experiences is temporary. Say it out loud. Your ears need to hear the words.

Having a lonely, unhappy, or stressful holiday does not mean ANYTHING negative about you.

The bad behavior of others is no indication of your value. You are still lovable, valuable, and worthy. Actively treat yourself this way and know that better times are coming.

If you are lonely, reach out for connection.

Call friends, help a lonely senior, love on an animal, connect with others who feel alone online, volunteer, commune with ancestors, and connect to your spiritual source. Push yourself in the direction you’d like your life to follow.

You are not alone. This time is temporary, and there’s nothing wrong with you. Everyone has up and down times. Don’t make it personal. It’s life. And it will change. Love yourself through.

You can handle any challenge, moment by moment, without negative self-judgment and criticism. You can choose to be kind to yourself and to let go of the media’s manipulations and the unrealistic notion that only happy holidays are normal. Love yourself by accepting that we are all in this together, and we’ll all have better and worse times. Breathe. Relax inside. Let go.

What will you do this holiday to help yourself feel more peaceful and secure?

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