The tree is up and sparkling. You’ve got the holiday music station playing as you make a cup of Gingerbread Chai. You pick up your latest library find, thankful you’ve already got a new book to swap at the book club party. You are in no mood to fight the holiday shoppers this weekend.

Yes, all the normal things seem to be in place. But something is missing?

You can’t seem to find your holiday spirit.

Maybe it is the grief of losing a loved one. Maybe someone just went off to college or left to find themselves. Maybe 2017 has just been a crappy year and you don’t need the extra stress. You just don’t feel the way you think you should as the holiday festivities swirl around you.

What To Do With The Holiday Blues

If you’re facing holiday blues you need to let go of the SHOULD. Acknowledge how you feel. Honor your right to not be joyous during the “most wonderful time of the year”. Know that the emotions you feel right now are real and valid but they aren’t YOU.

To navigate the holiday blues, you need to tap into a few of your resilience skills. It helps to remember the 3 Ps of resilience: personalization, pervasiveness and permanence.

Personalization…there is NOTHING wrong with you. Your feelings are your feelings but they do not have to define you.

Pervasiveness…it may seem that those feelings color every part of your life but I promise you there is something else on the horizon.

Permanence…it feels like it will last forever but it can and will get better.

How does this translate into a way through the holidays? Here are 5 things to help you navigate your holiday blues and find a little light in the darkness.

  1. Say no. Not that you should isolate yourself but if you really just can’t face all the holiday cheer at happy hour go home. Instead, call your best friend and meet up with her at your house to watch a movie or talk it out.
  2. Give. Another way to not isolate yourself is to give a little time to someone else in need. It could be as simple as helping sort donations at a food pantry or volunteering to walk dogs at the local shelter. Helping others helps us to see the big picture and gain a little perspective.
  3. Practice self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up for your lack of holiday cheer. If you find you are saying things to yourself that you would not say to your best friend or favorite niece, work on reframing your words to more affirming statements. For example, instead of “what is wrong with me? Cheer up!” try “It’s okay to NOT be happy all the time but I also know these feelings are temporary”. Self-compassion journaling is also a great technique to help foster a kinder and gentler attitude towards yourself. Try Dr. Kristin Neff’s self-compassion journaling exercises if you’re not sure how to get started.
  4. Use the RAIN meditation technique. This technique can be extremely helpful in creating some space between the emotions you are feeling and your self. RAIN stands for Recognize, Allow, Investigate and Nourish. To learn more about this meditation technique, click here for a guided meditation from Dr. Tara Brach.
  5. Find a way to laugh just a little. Allowing yourself a moment of laughter doesn’t mean your blues are gone. It just means you’re allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel in the moment. It can be a small break from the heaviness of it all. I’ll suggest reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson or listening to the audio version Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.

You are NOT alone in feeling a little blue during the holidays. You’re not a Scrooge, you’re just human. Be kind to yourself.

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