Today I was grateful to catch up with a friend over lunch. I LOVE hanging out with amazing, fierce women who are doing brilliant work.
Of course, I listened to old-timey Christmas carols as I drove, obviously.
Someday at Christmas* came on, by Stevie Wonder, and today, for the first time, I listened to the words.
Someday at Christmas men won’t be boys
Playing with bombs like kids play with toys
One warm December our hearts will see
A world where men are free
With everything currently going on the world, it feels like this song was just written yesterday.
Someday at Christmas we’ll see a land
With no hungry children, no empty hand
One happy morning people will share
Our world where people care
With the somber lyrics, I starting thinking about the holidays, and all the people that are really struggling. The war right now is horrifying, and the number of innocent victims is staggering.
This time of year has always been a little bitter-sweet for me. My mood takes a dive, and then I’d generally berate myself for feeling sad, because I “should be grateful”.
If you do some research feeling blue right now isn’t uncommon actually. (If you can’t put your finger on your low mood, don’t feel badly about it – you might have a bit of the holiday blues yourself.)
We tend to put unreasonable expectations on ourselves, and with increased obligations at this time of year, we can feel overwhelmed and depleted. If we’ve lost loved ones, this time of year can bring up feelings of grief and loneliness. The other thing is that the year is coming to an end, and we naturally reflect on what we’ve accomplished – “another year has passed…and what do I have to show for myself??”
A few tips to help:
- Keep it simple. Don’t accept every single invitation you receive, especially if you don’t automatically think “HELL YES that sounds like fun!!”
2. Know your place. What I mean, is that YOU ARE NOT THE KEEPER OF YOUR WHOLE FAMILY. YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING EVERYONE GET ALONG. YOU ARE NOT THE ONE IN CHARGE OF MANAGING EVERY RELATIONSHIP IN YOUR WORLD.
Come on, now.
3. Keep your expectations in check. I don’t know ONE family that can honestly say their get-togethers are entirely enjoyable and stress-free. Stop playing a Hallmark holiday movie reel in your head about how great “this year is going to be”.
Auntie Linda is probably going to comment on how it “must be nice” for you to afford your new living room coach (that you’ve actually scrimped and saved for.)
Uncle Bob will probably drink too much and tell you that you’ve “sure aged”.
Maybe your weird cousin Eddie will educate you on how to raise your kids.
Humans can be kind of clueless, and generally, we don’t effectively communicate our needs or boundaries.
If Linda and Bob are usually obnoxious, they will probably still be that way this time around. (Good news – Eddie will probably be extra enthusiastic about child-rearing since he’s moved out of his parents’ house and recently adopted a guinea pig.)
Expect it, and ignore it, or laugh it off. (OR, decide to spend your time differently next year and socialize with people you want to actually socialize with- GASP.)
4. Ask for help. Who ever said you needed to cook ALL THE THINGS, serve on your wedding china dinnerware (married people, is that still a thing??) and have every inch of your house decorated with fresh boughs of greenery?
5. Don’t drink too much. Alcohol is a depressant and will make you feel worse (however, I know it IS tempting to dull the pain when Uncle Mike corners you to tell you about his bunion.)
6. Body movement. (More than periodic walks from the couch to the fridge…)
7. Reach out to people that make you feel good and lift your spirits. Don’t make a bunch of phone calls to people that will make you anxious and twisty – send them cards instead. Be intentional about making time for the people that light you up.
8. Journaling is super helpful. Sometimes, the thoughts in my brain need somewhere to GO, and they are DEFINITELY NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
Write it down. You can even rip up the pages after and get rid of the evidence.
9. More on writing – a great exercise that is proven to be useful – at the end of your day, do your 3 and 3. Jot down 3 things that you are grateful for, and 3 things that went well during your day. These don’t have to be massive – even on a “bad” day, maybe you got green lights on the way to the office, or maybe you made all your shots when you tossed your garbage into the bin. Maybe the check out line you picked at the grocery store moved faster than the others. (Maybe it moved slower, but the cashier smiled at you and put an extra bag on your leaky package of chicken. #winning)
10. Self care is essential. I’m not talking about bubble baths and pedicures – although those are lovely also.
Do you schedule in time to do the things that make you happy? Doing a puzzle? Reading? Basket weaving? Belly dancing? When are you doing this stuff, boo?
Do you take a few minutes to make something healthy to eat? (Hint: this is NOT eating stale popcorn over the sink.)
Do you shut your phone down an hour before bed so you can unwind and prepare for sleep? (Or do you DOOM SCROLL?)
At the end of the day, listen to your body, and pay attention to how you’re feeling.
Reach out for help or support. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call your local prevention line.
Please don’t suffer in silence.
*Released during the Vietnam War, this powerful song was written by Bryan Wells and Ron Miller