The Christmas season can be a difficult time when you are sad. For some of us, it’s just a reminder that things could be better. For others, it’s an opportunity to feel lonely by the surrounding joy. If you’re feeling sad this Christmas, here are some tips for how to cope:
1. Plan an escape strategy
If your sadness is making it difficult for you to enjoy the festivities around Christmas day, try planning an escape strategy. It may seem daunting at first, but knowing that you have a plan will help ease some of your anxiety about the day and make it more bearable.
Know when you will leave in advance. Have a plan of how you will step away from the crowd or the gathering and head home. Don’t stay longer than you need to. Your mental health is so important and Christmas (especially Christmas day) with family and crowds can sometimes exasperate your emotions. Knowing that you don’t have to stay at the gathering for its entirety and knowing what time you will exit will help you be more in control of your emotions and help you not get too overwhelmed.
The thought of being around groups of people when you are sad can be exhausting. Having an escape plan from the Christmas day gathering can ensure that you don’t have to have to put on that ‘happy face’ or ‘brave face’ the whole day or night.
2. Find a new tradition to start
I have started a tradition with our best friends where we have a Christmas dinner with them. They are people who bring my husband and me a lot of joy. We laugh when we are around them. It makes Christmas fun knowing that we have a Christmas dinner to look forward to every year. Your new tradition doesn’t have to be something over the top. It could be cocktails at your home, a Christmas picnic in the park, or a dinner at your favourite restaurant.
It can be a new tradition that you start with your family or friends. Once you’ve decided what you’ll do, talk about it with everyone in your life interested in participating. Even if that’s just one other person. Then, commit to doing whatever it is for at least five years. My husband and I are in our 3rd year of our new tradition with dinner with our best friends and we look forward to it more and more every year.
3. Talk to someone
When you are struggling at Christmas, it is important to talk to someone you trust. If you don’t have a close friend or family member who can listen and help you through this tough time, then consider reaching out to a professional counsellor or therapist.
You may be afraid that people will judge your mental health issues, but there is no shame in asking for help or admitting that something is wrong. Talking about your feelings and experiences can be incredibly therapeutic and inspiring.
Sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger than to relatives or friends.
During talking therapy, a trained counsellor or therapist listens to you and helps you find your own answers to problems, without judging you.
The therapist will give you time to talk, cry, shout or just think. It’s an opportunity to look at your problems in a different way with someone who’ll respect you and your opinions.https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/benefits-of-talking-therapies/
4. Be honest with people
When we are sad, especially at Christmas, we feel that we are the only ones. There are so many people happy, laughing and having fun all around us during Christmas time. This can be so hard when all you want to do is sit and cry. Sadness comes at different times and Christmas is no exception.
Remember that this is not unusual. You’re not alone. You will feel better if you can be honest with the people in your life. Even if your friends and family don’t fully understand what is going on with your situation, just them knowing that you are experiencing sadness can help. This will allow them to understand why you may be acting a little differently.
Many of us struggle with Christmas, especially Christmas Day. The expectations it brings to be joyous can often mean we don’t want to talk about sadness because we think others will judge us for being sad or worried when all we should be doing is having fun and experiencing joy at Christmas.
There is an expectation that people should be merry and bright during the holiday season, but so often that just isn’t realistic. Be honest about this with the people closest to you whom you can trust. You never know, they may also be going through the same emotions.
5. Be kind to yourself
It’s important to be kind to yourself. You may be feeling sad or lonely during Christmas but that doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up about it. Instead, try these things:
- Don’t compare yourself with others or think about how good they have it compared to you. They might also be struggling more than you think at Christmas time.
- Remind yourself that everyone has their ups and downs, and it’s okay to feel sad sometimes. Christmas isn’t an exception to this.
- Have realistic expectations for what you can handle on Christmas Day. If there’s something that feels like too much work for you (especially if you are hosting the gathering at your place) then ask for help from others around you!
- Planning for times when you need to step away from the crowd during a Christmas gathering is crucial. If certain family members trigger your sadness or depression (for example, if they tend to say insensitive or judgmental things), consider when you need to step away for a breather or have a moment alone.
- You could choose to focus on talking to people who understand how important it is for you right now to protect your peace and your emotions. The more people around who understand what’s going on with you, the better chance there is for getting through Christmas Day without feeling too overwhelmed by it.
6. Don’t be ashamed of your feelings.
If you are not feeling well, it is OK! It is also important that you don’t hide your feelings by pretending that everything is fine. This will only make things worse for yourself and those around you.
You should not feel guilty about having sad feelings at Christmas. Life can be very difficult sometimes and it is perfectly normal to be sad at Christmas.
I hope these tips help you have a better Christmas and be able to get through Christmas Day. Remember that it’s ok to be sad, and there is no shame in letting people know how you’re feeling.
You can either go through this alone or reach out for support from friends and family who understand what you’re going through. In any case, remember that Christmas is just one day out of the entire year. It doesn’t define who we are and one day isn’t an accurate representation of our whole life. Take the weight of yourself this Christmas and follow the tips above to help you manage your sadness this Christmas.