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“Happy Holidays!” – do you ever feel like that’s an oxymoron? While for some (myself included) the holiday season calls to mind fond memories and pleasant feelings of comfort and wonder, for others the winter holidays are far less magical and much more stressful.
Young adults, who may be out of our childhood home and living on our own for the first time, may have difficulty assimilating back into the “mold”, so to speak, especially if doing so challenges our newly developing (and individuated) identities. This could be particularly true for people who’s individual values and lifestyle may differ from (or conflict with) that of their upbringing, as is sometimes the case with LGBT people.
Thankfully, there are ways to cope with the negative feelings that the holiday season may bring up for you so that you can focus instead on the more positive feelings the holidays are intended to evoke.
If you find yourself feeling blue this Christmas (or seeing red this Chanukah) the American Psychological Association (APA) has some recommendations on how to cope. Whether it be through volunteering, modifying your expectations, reflecting on what’s truly important (to you), or choosing to only participate in healthy conversation, there are lots of ways you can take action to make the season brighter. And if all else fails, and you still find yourself miserable, don’t just suffer silently – seek support. Seeing a therapist can help.
As mental health advocates, I believe we can play a special role in bringing this “good news” to the public. In addition to mental health parity advocacy and non-discrimination work (both so important), we also need to be leading the way in sharing as much practical mental health information as possible so that all people have an opportunity to live a satisfying (and in this case less stressful) life.
On a more personal note, whatever holiday you may celebrate this December (or even if you don’t celebrate the winter holidays) my hope for you is that you will successfully overcome any emotional hardships you may be experiencing and that you may find moments of Peace & Joy, however momentary and fleeting. Because everyone deserves a (sincerely) Happy Holiday – even you.
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