Blue Christmas: When You Find Yourself Dreading Christmas
Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Ah Christmastime, a time for family, joy, food and gifts. The most wonderful time of the year. What if though, deep down, you’re struggling. Struggling to feel joy and excitement, and instead, the thought of Christmas brings up a combination of stress, fatigue, annoyance and… dread. Are you alone in feeling this way? Nope. Not at all. Taking a moment to identify the source of your gloomy feelings may be a bigger part of the remedy for it than you realize.
1. Loneliness. This can be from estrangement from family or friends. It could be geographical if traveling to be together isn’t feasible. It could be the painful sting of the loss of a loved one. It might be the residual effects of a trauma experienced this time of year. It could even be that in your house crowded full of family, you don’t feel accepted, valued or respected.
2. Uneven task distribution. Let’s face it, in most households there is one person, (ahem, most commonly named Mom) who is juggling a massive list of festive preparations. It is easy and understandable for the joy to evaporate and the resentment to mount when you’re buried under an endless to-do list.
3. SAD. We celebrate Christmas in Canada during a dark, often sunless month. So many of us experience some level of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) this time of year, which is typified by feelings of isolation, mood swings, loss of enjoyment in activities, anxiety, depression and/or stress. The pressure to be “on” and be the life of the party can exacerbate those symptoms.
4. Too much together time. Having a lot of people with different world views and beliefs under one roof can feel utterly chaotic and oddly claustrophobic. To add to the tension, there can be a palpable regression returning to your childhood home dynamic with your parents and siblings present. It may feel like you’re 10 years old again, like your brain has reverted to past ways of thinking and behaving, even though you’re an adult who has your own partner and children with you. A battle of conflicting perspectives could be waging in your mind between “I’m a grown adult” bashing against the “oppositional child or compliant child” mindset. It’s mentally exhausting and a definite source of stress.
5. Money strain. Christmas is brutal to navigate when money it tight! Everywhere you look, you think of another gift you’ll need. The host gifts and community helper gifts start to add up. The pressure to buy fantastic, impressive gifts is everywhere around us. It’s even harder as your kids reach their teenage years and the price tags on the gifts climb higher just as it gets harder to inspire awe in them. Walking the malls trying to find gifts for everyone on your list while fretting about mounting credit card balances is an absolute source of tension.
The solutions to these very real sources of stress may include: downsizing expectations, saying no more often, practicing self-care and asking for support. But it’s possible that the best practice is to pause and identify why you’re feeling so crummy. The emotions we carry are just asking to be seen and acknowledged. That’s it. Some things we can change and some things we just have to get through. Christmas will come and go whether it’s a joyful experience or a stressful one. But connecting with our stress by looking it square in the eye, understanding why it is there and sitting with it for a moment may be just enough to quiet it significantly.
Paula Presswood is a former teacher turned entrepreneur. She can mostly be found blogging, doing yoga, drinking tea, chasing around after her three teenagers and sampling delicious appetizers with her crazy magician husband. She is Co-founder of Presswood Entertainment and The ThoughtFull Board. Follow Paula on instagram