Maybe you like hearing Christmas music in September. Maybe you can’t get enough of Rudolph’s story of triumph over reindeer bullying. And let’s all pour another glass of egg nog!
If you’re wearing matching sweaters while stringing lights and singing carols with your family, good for you. I really do mean it. Take joy whenever and however you can.
The thing is, not everyone feels joyful this season. In fact, not everyone likes the holidays in general. Some of us actively dread this season, because it tends to correspond with seasons of sadness.
Sometimes these seasons of sadness are connected to specific events, and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes we feel alone, even if we’re around good people who love and care for us.
Sadness like this isn’t usually simple. You can’t just tell someone, “Cheer up!” and witness their transformation in front of your eyes. (And unfortunately it doesn’t usually work when you say it to yourself either.)
There isn’t an easy answer for these things, at least not one that I’ve found. Mostly I want you to know that even if you feel alone, you’re not the only one who’s struggling. And there will be a better season at some point, hopefully soon and “just around the corner,” but even if not, it’s still on the way at some point.
In the meantime….
Having some perspective is good. You don’t sleep on the street, do you? You have access to clean water, right? And presumably you’re not fleeing Syria or another war-torn country. To be clear, thinking of other people in need doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sad. Don’t feel guilty about how you feel—you already have enough negative feelings. It just helps to have a little perspective.
Giving to others and helping however you can is also good. It won’t solve all your problems, but it can help other people with theirs. Give however you can, wherever you can, and in whatever way feels right to you. If nothing else, you’ll make someone else’s life a little better.
Keep doing things you know are good for you. Is exercise helpful? For most people it is, so try to stay active. Listen to music you like. Go for walks. Do something you enjoy, and if it doesn’t feel enjoyable now, that’s okay too.
Know yourself and do what’s best for you. Some people shouldn’t drink alcohol during extended times of sadness. Others can handle it in moderation, and it may even help. The same is true of caffeine, sugar, or other substances. You know yourself best.
When something good happens, appreciate it! Sometimes a reprieve arrives in an unexpected surprise. Well, don’t ask too many questions! Just like the happy people in the ridiculous sweaters, take joy however you can.
Make a gratitude list. The other day I wrote down a list of 10 things I appreciated even in the midst of a season of sadness. Then the next day I did it again. Even in the worst of times, there’s a list waiting for you to write it, too.
Once again, remember that everyone you meet is fighting their own hard battle.
The holidays aren’t a joyous time for everyone. If you’re struggling, hold on till a new year comes around. Keep believing that the best is yet to come, even if you can’t see it.