Beating Holiday Blues- when you fall short of the PERFECT holiday
38% of people surveyed for a study said their stress level increased during the holiday season.
It was Good Friday a while ago, and that meant a long weekend, Thursday- Sunday. I was sitting with a few friends at work and they were discussing their long week-end plans... One friend was going with her family to visit another city, one was going on a 10 or 12th mini honeymoon with her husband to Venice, Italy, one was taking her kids to the mountains to bring them closer to the nature, and taking them camping, paragliding and other fun adventures.
They looked at me and I was dumbfounded... I realized I HAD to plan something for the vacations. I had to plan to enjoy.
I went home and spoke to my husband and kids and asked them all what they wanted to do. My daughter’s friend was going to Dubai so she wanted to go there while my son was fascinated with Germany and German automobiles, my husband just wanted to take an off to spend holidays as they are.
I was late in my organizing, I became cranky and started fighting with my husband for no reason at all. I Googled everywhere near and far, everything was booked or too overpriced for us to afford. I wasn’t happy and I was making my family miserable.
But, I looked back on our past trips and I feel like I kept falling short of the perfect holiday.
I felt that maybe I was taking the wrong path and should be doing what everyone else is.
Sitting at home felt like I was missing out on something fun, that I was wasting time and should just go on a forever holiday too.
I wanted to go for the best vacation, which would leave my friends gaping at me.
I was confused
It was almost suddenly that I realized that the last time I felt that the friend of mine who spent time with her family had the perfect holiday… She felt that the other friend who went for the Honeymoon had the perfect holiday… And that friend found someone else’s holiday perfect- There is no such thing as Perfect and there is no end to the race. Only a way out or a way in. Why participate in a race that never ends, and that I can never win? Why not be where I wish to be and do what I wish to do?
The holiday season often inspires feelings of warmth, joy, and belongingness unconditionally. But for some people, this time of year can evoke feelings of loneliness, stress and anxiety.
It can be very demotivating and can make us feel sad during holidays when we wish to go out and enjoy ourselves with friends and look at our phones only to find that our friends are busy or outstation or we do not have anyone to message who might be able to spend time with us. It can be very natural to feel lonely and that we don’t have anybody.
45% of North American adults report that they dread the holiday season.
We have to remember that we have us- our interests, our hobbies, our passions. In day to day life we don’t get time to do things that make us happy… Here is our time to pamper ourselves, watch a movie or a movie marathon we have always wanted to watch, draw, paint, dance, sing, go for a long drive to nowhere in particular.
While the majority of people feel happiness, love, and high spirits over the holidays, those emotions were often accompanied by feelings of fatigue, stress, irritability, bloating, and sadness.
Top stressors during the holiday season can be: lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving, and family gatherings.
We live in the 21st century where everyone can see what everyone is doing with every minute of their time in the blink of an eye and how it can be very natural to feel that their option is better than the one we are currently choosing.
It’s like a race is happening on Facebook, and other social media platforms on who seems to have a better time, who posts first and who posts better. Before there was social media, how much did we enjoy the little things- example just going to fairs (melas) with friends, eating street food and popsicles.
Pre-race a holiday used to be anything slightly different from the everyday- Even sitting at home playing cards with family, ordering pizzas was nothing less than extraordinary and today extra-ordinary food and a trip abroad doesn’t seem fun enough. The pressure to do better than everyone else, to do the best does not let us enjoy the here and the now.
The here and now are not just on vacations but even outside of it, the tiniest of situations- like being stuck in a traffic jam can be seen as more time to enjoy a game like Dumb charades with family, or dropping food on our shirt could be funny rather than annoying.
The “pressure of enjoyment so that it can be posted on social networking sites” is an illusion created by self to deceive the self. The constant pressure, that I “Should” have perfection every step of the way.
Too much pressure can make a lot of us angry, fed up or sad. It can make us feel stressed out, insecure, and give us an inferiority when comparing ourselves to others.
Specially during christmas and new years eve, as the hours of daylight grow shorter during the fall and winter months, a change in the biological clock (circadian rhythm) or a drop in the Serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter in the brain or a disruption in the balance of the body's level of melatonin. These can lead to tiredness, fatigue, sadness or a sense of general discontent, crying, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and appetite changes, particularly overeating, especially of carbohydrates and weight gain.
Since these changes may occur in summers as well, for some people Summers can be a tough time.It can be very natural to feel this as a pattern when the season changes and the duration of the day changes.
Coping with anxiety that a holiday brings in
1. Don’t let others define FUN for you
Or worry about what they might think. Or seek their validation. Know what is fun for YOU and what is NOT. Would you rather enjoy a laid back quiet holiday this time or fun and chaos.
2. Forget about perfectionism.
Nobody is perfect. No matter how lovely someone’s life appears on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, they too will have to deal with heartache, rejection, pain, and loss. Recognize, then, that sometimes we can’t make everything perfect—and that’s okay.
3. Fantasy of a Picture Perfect Holiday.
Hoping for a picture-perfect holiday would be like setting oneself up for disappointment, de-motivation, feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.
People have this anticipation or fantasy of the holiday that they would see on TV, or hear about in a social circle, or read in a book etc. “Actually, it’s never exactly as people anticipate and it’s often disappointing.”- psychiatrist Mark Sichel
4. Being Grateful
Being mindful of what we do have to be thankful for ― our family spending time together, eating good food, having fun on the rides in an amusement park, all the things that go wrong only to bring us closer to the people near us, getting a week off from work etc.― can help combat feelings of deficiency or lack of perfection.
“Realize that the holidays do end ― so stock up whatever you can be grateful for,” says Sichel.
5. Focus on the process, not on the outcome.
Detaching from the possible outcomes and just keeping the focus on the work or the journey to the goal (as small as shopping to as big as a trip to Disneyland) makes it easier to both live and live up to our potential by reducing any worries.
6. Be OK with mistakes and failure.
It can be easy to be stressed out, or be afraid of things going wrong or plans coming undone, and if experienced a setback to be demotivated by it. However, if no one is perfect then everyone fails.
It is important then to see failure or rejection not as something negative that might end life if it strikes but to redefine it simply as a challenge to overcome. Enjoying the irony of it, sometimes finding something to laugh at, a challenge can give us the courage and a new perspective to find the best way to overcome it.
7. Too much to do, too little time
We sometimes feel like we just have too much to do and too little time for the most important things which can be the reason we can miss deadlines at work or have no time for Self-care.
For example: Too much to shop, or too many places to visit, or too much work at office or at home, too much to do to dress up for a party, too much to plan, too many events and plans etc. and too little time.
It is important to do some decluttering in life, that is, eliminating some of the less important stuff. To not get stuck in the unimportant nitty gritties asking 2 questions can help: Is this, what I’m doing right now, useful?, on a scale of 1-10 how important is it?
It’s important to realize that no one does really have to do everything. We always have a choice. And we can always choose to break for fun as well.
8. Not taking things too seriously.
What is worth doing is worth doing well so one should try their best to plan everything to the last for a fun-filled time to enjoy every second of every minute.
However, having the feeling that the sky will fall down if something goes wrong is most often inaccurate outside of our own head and it’s not conducive to feeling good. Except we tend to remember and enjoy more when something does go wrong and we find a way to deal with it… That is when we have something to write home about.
Rather than spending all the time planning and expecting things to go as per our plans and being disappointed that they didn’t, let plans be Theoretical and have fun with the Practical...
9. Be Present.
Anxiety appears when we start to overthink on every negative possible outcome so much that we start to fear the future. However, if we are present and living in the moment—focusing on what is happening at this very minute—then we won’t have the time to be anxious.
10. Showing oneself some heartfelt compassion.
Cutting ourselves some slack. We have to Treat ourselves like we would treat a friend: with kindness. Not focusing on all the things we haven’t done, instead praising our accomplishments and rewarding our achievements, thinking about things we have done. Being grateful for what we have. Building oneself up instead of putting oneself down. We have to Stop judging ourselves.
“The moments of Happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”