In his Christmas special, poor Charlie Brown dwells on his perception that no one likes him because he doesn’t get any cards! And then when he tries to make others happy by being the director of the play, he fails and becomes extremely unhappy himself. But these feelings aren’t just reserved to a children’s tv special.
Holidays are stressful for everyone but for people like Charlie Brown who are prone to depression, it can be even worse. Seasonal depression, reminders of the loss of someone important, or just the general stress of society’s expectations for a picture perfect Christmas can make things can get really tough. It’s no surprise that the number of calls into crisis centers increase starting around November every year.
And while it can help some to remember the “Reason for the Season,” that really doesn’t help many people because it doesn’t make the aspects that make the holidays stressful go away.
So what can we do to prevent turning into a Charlie Brown?
5 Tips to Get Through the Holidays
Set Achievable Expectations The biggest source of stress for most people is trying to meet expectations for a perfect holiday season. We all want to find the perfect gift, decorate to make our homes the envy of friends and neighbors, and set the table with dishes that rival Rockwell’s. No one, and I really mean no one, can really achieve that. Set expectations you can achieve. Don’t depend on the happiness of others to create your happiness. Revel in the not-quite-perfect-but-magical-anyway aspects of your holiday.
Make it yours If you find an aspect of the holidays overwhelming, just forget it. My mom can’t stand sending out cards so she doesn’t do it. And she’s happier than if she did. Sure, at first she worry for a second about not sending them but she doesn’t stress over them. She relaxed and enjoyed her version of the holidays, sans cards. It’s what makes it her holiday, not someone else’s. Do things because they are what you like to do, not because you were told to like them!
Involvement Charlie Brown’s “therapist” is right when she says involvement will help him overcome his Christmas blues. There really is no avoiding it, Christmas is everywhere. So taking time to celebrate traditions that are important to you and taking time to slow down the rushed pace of the holidays does a lot to help. Enjoy the season in a way that you find enjoyable. Love to sit with a mug of cocoa in front of a fire? Do it! Love to listen to death metal versions of carols while looking at light displays? Do it!
Relax If you get driven up a wall and just can’t take it anymore, stop. Just take some time for yourself and let those things that are stressing you go to the wayside. In a month, no one is going to care that you didn’t put out your inflatable Santa on the yard. Take a minute and ask yourself “Is this really important or can I skip it?” Most likely, you can do without. Then commit to your decision and let it go. Don’t fret over it continually!
Remember Holidays can remind you about the loss of a loved one by the absence in your holiday traditions. Take some time to be sad. If you decide to skip traditions because they make you unbearably sad, just do it. Revisit them next year. Or, do them in remembrance of your loved one and enjoy it as much as you can. They would want you to.