Archive for November, 2019

Holiday Happiness

Holiday Happiness

By: Sharon Burris-Brown LICSW, NBC-HWC

Holidays are supposed to be joyful, right?  Unfortunately, not necessarily.  Consider these common scenarios:

The Reality

In a 2014 survey, 64% of respondents who have mental illness reported feeling “a lot or somewhat worse” during the holidays.

Overall, about 62% of participants, even if they do not report having a mental illness, feel dissatisfied, financial stress, lonely, too pressured or have unrealistic expectations. 

Holiday Loneliness/Holiday Stress

If you are already feeling alone in your life, holidays can amplify that emotion times ten.  Loneliness may have been around forever, but more recently, researchers have called loneliness the new scourge.  And it is truly pervasive.

45% of adults over 45 report chronic loneliness.  Larger portions of people in this country are not married or living with others.  Religious, community and club affiliations are down.  The 2011 Census reports a 10% increase in individuals living alone.

Research shows that loneliness is particularly dangerous to one’s health and mortality.  It is as significant a risk factor for dis-ease as smoking a half a pack of cigarettes a day.

Not enough engagement with others during the holiday season and too few joyful rituals can cause sadness and despondency.

On the other side, there can surely be too much people time and too many obligations.  This tips the stress scale upwards when the balance of busyness, the shoulds, and being around others engulf scheduling down time and self-care.

A 2015 survey found that over 60% of individuals questioned were either somewhat or very stressed during the holidays.  The biggest stressor were finances, but other stressors ran the gamut: too much to do, not enough rest, too much food and no time for exercise.

How to Stay Sane

So how do you counteract the persistent messages that you have to put on a joyful face during the holiday season?  How to confront the belief that you need to be all things to all people?

What can you do to create meaningful connection to others during the holidays?

There are definite strategies to savor the holidays without feeling like you have to empty your energy and emotional buckets to do it.  Take a breath and think about the deeper meaning and values that these holidays reflect and act in alignment with them.  When values and actions align, the rest falls into place.