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"Happy Holidays" Shouldn’t Be an Oxymoron

Happy Holidays!

“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.

2 Replies to “"Happy Holidays" Shouldn’t Be an Oxymoron”

  1. VRuiz says:

    The holidays are something else…. I dont know how to take them anymore. I remember being so excited as a kid bc i knew it would bring tons of gifts and I’d be able to see some of my family members that I have not seen in quite some time. Now, it’s just different. I dont really get any gifts, instead.. I’m doing most of the giving and oddly, I’m okay with that. I think the holidays (as I transition into adult hood) is what changes things. I still have the fond memories and experiences from the past but now its just a time in which I reflect. I still get the same warm fuzzy feeling but I cant help to think about all the people who dont recognize those feelings or have a hard time with the holidays are suppose to mean or represent.

  2. bgayTurningPoint says:

    Yeah I understand what you are saying about how the experience changes from childhood to adulthood. I feel the same way. I remember being a child and being SO excited for Santa Claus to visit. I believe in him like I believe in God – it was just so magical and special. We’d set out the cookies and I’d lay awake wondering if I’d hear him on the rooftop when he’d arrive. I was twelve when I “found out” but I wasn’t upset. I was actually with my little brother so I was more concerned with making sure he didn’t put two and two together too young (he’s four years my junior).

    I do still have a positive experience about the holidays, however. I draw inspiration from the Christmas story – I find something really powerful and deeply moving about it that makes me want to be a better person at this time of year. I still fall short, but I’m glad we observe it because I think if nothing else, it helps to raise my consciousness to the fact that “Hey Brian – you can do better”.

    And I agree with you, I feel for people who suffer at this time of year. I can imagine how if someone were suffering, and didn’t have adequate supports in place, this time of year could be especially painful given that there is a certain expectation that people be “merry and bright” – so in contrast, someone who feels numb or blue probably feels REALLY numb or blue. I think that’s where it’s that much more important for people to be charitable (not just monetarily but emotionally and spiritually as well) at this time of year.

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