“Happy Holidays… Merry and Bright… Holly, Jolly…” | What if you’re not feeling these ‘cheery’ sentiments?

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“Happy Holidays…Merry and Bright…Holly, Jolly”

What if you’re not feeling these ‘cheery’ sentiments?

 By Colleen Burns

I have mixed feelings about the holidays. While I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and love the sentimental pieces of this time of year, the holidays can be extremely stressful. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, I wanted to pause and share some things that help me get through the holidays. I hope in sharing I can help someone.

Remembering self-care | Tami Forman of Forbes emphasizes self-care as a discipline. “It’s taking care of yourself in a way that doesn’t require you to ‘indulge’ in order to restore balance…when you truly take care of yourself, exercising all the discipline that requires, you are actually in a much stronger place to give of yourself to those around you.” For me, self-care means making the time to do physical activity, drinking enough water, and eating healthy. Forgetting these things increases my anxiety and makes it harder for me to feel positive about the holidays.

Taking breaks | Life seems to pass at warp speed from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Everyone is hurrying from work to shopping to holiday parties to family gatherings, and the pace can feel overwhelming. It’s important to find time for yourself during this time. Sometimes I’ll watch TV in my basement at home after a long day at work, accompanied by my cat Finn. The relative quiet and the vibrations of Finn’s purr are just the things I need to recharge.

Finding things to look forward to | Some things are synonymous with the holidays: making cookies, watching certain TV specials, and listening to songs that are only played this time of year. I love watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas. These childhood classics help boost my mood. Think about traditions that bring you joy during the season.

Getting outside | Physical activity and a change of scenery can positively affect your mood, according to Mental Health America. Take advantage of all the fun winter has to offer by going outside. I try and get my dog, Molly, to go for a walk on our nearby bike trail. She may not appreciate walking in the cold, but we enjoy spending the time together!

Asking for help | The holidays can take a serious toll on your mental health. It’s OK to ask for help and it’s important to understand when you need to reach out and seek, or accept help, outside of yourself. Know where you can turn for help, whether it’s a family member, friend, therapist, or helpline text/chat services.

Remember, be kind to yourself. What works for you one day, may not work a few days later. What works well for one person might not work for another. So, it’s important to ask, “what works for me?” and have a variety of skills for different situations. Sometimes the first method of coping you turn to may not bring much relief and that’s ok – try not to get discouraged!

Practicing your healthy coping skills and getting help when you need it are ways you can take action to improve or sustain your mental health this holiday season, and beyond. 

Colleen Burns is a marketing communications professional who has worked with organizations in the behavioral health field. She volunteers at the Jordan Porco Foundation. Her lived experiences inspire her to advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. She lives in the Farmington Valley with her family and enjoys music, traveling, and being creative. 

If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “HOME” to 741-741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line. 

If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.

The opinions expressed in this blog are personal, and not those of the Jordan Porco Foundation. The information in this blog post is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as mental health advice from the individual author or the Jordan Porco Foundation. You should consult a mental health professional for advice regarding your individual situation.