The holidays are hyped up to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” And for some, they are. But the pressure to be merry and jolly alongside the rest of the world becomes extra heavy when you feel anything but that.
For me, feel the joy each holiday season carries the weight of childhood drama, stress, and sadness. As I share my experiences with others, I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this feeling. I’ve heard countless stories from folks who have lost loved ones, experienced trauma, and felt something other than happiness, like grief or winter depression.
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Studies conducted in JapanTrusted Source, AmericaTrusted Source, and all over the world suggest that suicide rates are higher during certain holidays (like New Year’s Day) than other days of the year as well.
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No matter which holiday you celebrate or which unpleasant memories resurface around this time, end-of-year dread is more common than you might think.
But I don’t want to be a Grinch anymore. That’s become a bigger priority this year now that I’m dating someone who embodies the sweet holiday-loving spirit of Buddy the Elf.
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Although I hope his joy will magically rub off on me, I know it’s not that simple. I can’t just snap my fingers and change how I’ve felt for as long as I can remember.
So, what can people like me do to stop hating the holidays? How can we rewrite our narrative to create happier memories going forward?
Here are eight ways to start leaning into the joy of the holiday season.
Identify your triggers
“A hate or dislike for holidays usually comes from some connected source or trauma,” says Oddesty K. Langham, MS, LPC, NCC, licensed clinical mental health therapist practicing in Alabama.
She notes that potential sources include:
poor relationships with family
individuals at social gatherings who make you feel uncomfortable
dissatisfaction with where you currently are in life
feeling anxious about the possibility of someone asking you uneasy questions
unresolved issues from your past that may come up in certain settings
“While it’s absolutely possible to stop feeling what you feel about the holidays and be happier moving forward, it’ll take you healing from the deeper concerns or issues in order to get to a better place and move forward,” Langham says.
Reach out for support
It’s OK to not feel OK. If you’re having a hard time getting through the holidays for whatever reason, you’re never alone. There’s support available for you.
Consider sharing your experience with kind and compassionate loved ones or a mental health professional.
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“Therapy can help you to identify reasons why you feel the way you do about the holidays and help you learn ways to cope and heal from those things,” says Langham.