If you happen to find yourself feeling a little ambivalent about the holidays, it might be helpful to know you’re not alone. It’s not so uncommon for sadness to arise, especially if memories of the past come up when there may have been grief and loss involved…loss of loved ones, loss of relationships…even loss of time where things maybe haven’t turned out the way you would have liked them to. Maybe it’s an inability to be with those you love during a time you love. Or maybe you’re not even sure why you’re feeling down, it’s just something that’s there.
Impulsively you might want to push these feelings away, but in my experience that will often just exacerbate the discomfort and only prolong it. It might be a better idea to set aside a few hours to sit with these feelings and take some action around them. Try writing a letter to someone that will never get sent as a way to create some space for your feelings about the situation. Or maybe look through old photo albums to simply be with the memories that are there.
You can also use this time for a little self-care. There are some great DIY videos out there where you can make something nice for yourself – like bath bombs, body scrubs, lip balms, and aromatherapy – which also might spark some ideas for home-made, personal gifts that you can create to give to someone else you care about.
When done with intention, activities such as these can have a lot of therapeutic value. But if you find that it’s hard to pull away, or that reminiscing turns into ruminating which gets stuck, it’s a good sign that it’s time to reach out to someone for help – either a friendly support person or even a professional.
Holidays aren’t an all or nothing thing; it’s ok to make room for all the feelings that come up, despite external messages that it’s supposed to be all about happiness. And ironically it’s often when you move into the sadness and find ways to nurture yourself around it, is when you can find room for more joy.
Copyright 2017 © Rachel Braun, All rights reserved.
Rachel Braun, ATR-BC Art Therapist Philadelphia, PA
Specializing in art therapy groups for women who experience depression, anxiety and eating disorders.