It's been over a month since my last blog post, which is a pretty big stretch of time for me. I usually try to set aside time once a week to research and write a new blog post. However, the hustle and bustle of the holidays significantly delayed this post- and that's what I want to address today: the holidays.
This time of year is filled with excitement, happiness, and nostalgia for many folks. Seeing family members, spending time with loved ones and giving and receiving meaningful gifts can stir up that magical feeling that we only really get in the weeks and days before the holidays. But, for some, this time of year stirs up uncomfortable and painful thoughts and feelings that are often overlooked.
Let's start off with the weather. Here in Cincinnati, the sun rises just around 8 AM and sets around 5 PM. That gives us about nine hours of direct daylight and many of us spend about eight of those hours inside at a job. I wrote a blog post about seasonal depression (keep scrolling to read more about it) and in it, I discussed the implications and symptoms of living without substantial daylight. To be frank, it's a downer when you step outside at 5 PM and it's pitch black out.
Furthermore, the holidays can stir up feelings of sadness and grief. Those who have lost a loved one can feel an emptiness during this time of year that can't be adequately filled. Some folks are estranged from their family members, and this can also cause pain and sadness. It's easy to notice their absence at family functions and parties.
Another aspect of the holidays that many people struggle with is the comparison trap. We all have that one cousin, aunt, sibling, etc. whose life seems perfect. They make six figures, they have the perfect partner, a few perfect kids, and maybe a yacht or something else extravagant that they brag about. Their perceived "perfection" causes you to feel inferior and can cause feelings of doubt, self-consciousness, and inadequacy. I'll let you in on a secret- nobody is perfect and everybody struggles with something. Don't let an illusion of perfection shame you into feeling poorly about yourself.
If you're struggling this holiday season, I encourage you to reach out to a counselor. If you're not interested or ready to seek counseling, then I encourage you to reach out to your support system. Feeling lonely and isolated during the holidays will likely exacerbate the uncomfortable feelings you're having.
And, if you're not struggling with anxiety, depression, or grief this holiday season, I encourage you to be kind and considerate when interacting with others.