Finding Joy Amidst the Holiday Blues

Holiday Stress and Holiday Blues

The year-end holidays can represent different things to different folks. For some, they represent a time to get together with friends and family. A time for sharing the joys of the season. Or, a time to cement or build life-long remembrances. But for others, the holidays can represent a very different time. Those struggling with losses or have undergone conflict and upheaval can find the holidays a very stressful time. Dealing with painful emotional issues can bring on a case of the “holiday blues.” And just knowing that others might not share or even understand one’s misery can intensify those blues.

Folks recently wrested from a dysfunctional relationship can feel particularly bluesy during the holiday season. They can succumb to significant depression. They may even wonder whether they’ll ever find joy again.

Finding the joy

So how do you find any joy amidst the holiday blues? Experts vary on this. But they agree that whether you’re dealing with holiday-related stress and anxiety or trying to cope with a recent loss, you can do some things to put some happiness back in your life.  So if you or someone you know has a case of the holiday blues, here are some ways the research suggests can help anyone find the joy again:

Learn to Accept.
Some things are simply not in your power to control. Accepting that can make all the difference. Blaming yourself and ruminating will only compound your misery. So, finding room in your heart for acceptance is key. That means accepting yourself as well as your situation. That doesn’t mean you give up hope. It just means you acknowledging circumstances as they are. Moreover, it means you refuse to make matters worse by heaping negative aspersions upon yourself.  You don’t have to be happy about your circumstances. But it doesn’t help to indict yourself or your character.
Take good care of yourself.
Dealing effectively with the holiday blues demands proper self care. You have to eat right and sleep right, as difficult as that might be. Get as much exercise as possible, too.  And take time to relax. You might even pamper yourself a bit. Break open a book you’ve been wanting to read. Take a warm, relaxing bath. Have a nourishing drink. Treat yourself to a not-so-serious movie. When we’re in tough times,  it’s imperative that we tend well to our most basic needs.
Do the things you love.
Reach out to an old friend. Window-shop just for the fun of it. If you have to be at home and alone for one reason or another, surround yourself with things you love. Put your favorite music on the stereo. Watch one of your favorite old movies. Shape your environment in a way that pleases you. Make your surroundings as pleasant and comforting as possible.
Shed some light on things.
Many folks are negatively affected by the shorter, grayer days of winter. So, keep the lights on.  Open the blinds and lift the shades. Light a fire.  Bring as much light into your living space as possible. Even if it’s cold out, if it’s sunny, bundle up and take a walk outdoors. Sunshine and light can brighten your spirits as well as your day. In addition, the amount of time you spend in the light can really help alleviate any depression you may have.
Give of yourself.
Facing difficult circumstances or loneliness makes it easy to feel sorry for yourself. However, that typically only worsens the holiday blues. So, while you might not feel very inclined to do so, you’ll do well to find time to give. Besides, giving of yourself is what the season is supposed to be about, anyway. But it can also boost your spirits immensely. So, forget yourself and your woes for a while. Instead, involve yourself in something that positively impacts others. When you give of yourself, you bring the best of gifts. And what you receive in return makes it all well worth it.
Focus on what really matters.
It may sound trite, but some things don’t really matter that much. Not in the grand scheme of things, anyway. So often, life’s little irritations are what get to us. Directing our focus away from such things and staying centered on what really counts makes all the difference.
The Joy is ultimately in Love

Life is full of trials and tribulations. And sometimes they can put a real damper on your usual holiday spirit.  You might find it a challenge just to get through the season with a minimum of stress. But remembering true meaning of the season helps. After all, it’s not about all the festivities or the tokens given or received. Ultimately, real spirit of the holiday rests in the the greatest gift of all: the gift of love. And that’s one gift you always have the power to share, even in difficult times. Remember that, and you’ll find the joy amidst any holiday blues.


Character Matters will air live December 10, 2017 at 7 pm ET. So, I can take your phone calls.

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28 thoughts on “Finding Joy Amidst the Holiday Blues

  1. This year, after three years of turmoil and no Christmas Spirit, I’m putting up my little tree, in my little over-crowded apartment. I’ve got my daughter and her three year old now living with me (after the SB X kicked them out a few weeks ago because he threw a fit because I babysit – imagine that – grandma watching her grandson. hmmm big problem. Big jealousy). But we are all doing ok. The little guy and his mom needs the Joy of Christmas brought to him and I’m bringing it. Money is tight, and it’s not so much about the flood of presents but more about family and security and the Magic that Christmas can bring.

    1. Lucy,

      A beautiful and inspiring post. Your daughter and grandchild are lucky to have you. I am glad you have each other.

      1. Very nice, Joey. Thanks for the link. Sometimes I listen to this kind of thing when I am trying to get to sleep at night.

        How are you spending Christmas? It has to be a strange time of year for you, to say the least.

      2. I have just learned something. a very vauleble lesson. which I shall remember.
        The only thing I can do is say. Enough adequate for the want or need; sufficient for the purpose or to satisfy desire.
        I have uset someone. I can only do what I think Is right. I will never do this again. I am so Sorry

        1. HI Joey,

          This is for you. It’s a Ho’oponopono meditation for forgiving ourselves for what we have been through and perhaps caused to others from our own unresolved pain. It’s the one with the binaural beats. It’s a nice one to go to sleep to.

          I hope you enjoy it Joey and things are happy for you.

    2. Lucy, Your x is still trying to get to you by hurting your daughter. Awful. It is SO great to know that you and your family are making the very best of it. You are going to have the best Christmas you’ve had in a long time, regardless! Good for you!

      1. Yes he tries to get to me in whatever way he can. That toxic SB needs to just be gone. But I’ve learned some coping skills and have found support from ones who really understand and I am so grateful for you all and dr Simon.

    3. Hi Lucy

      I’m glad you have your daughter and grandson with you now. Thank God they are no longer around SB. Typical of him to pull something like that. They generally love nothing more than to f^&k up Christmas. Don’t let him.

      This is a critical time for your grandson. If he’s at around 3 that’s object relations time. This is a critical part of a child’s development it’s when they seperate from the mother and start to see her and others as seperate entities from themselves.

      Prior to completing object relations they see everybody else as extensions of themselves there only to supply or frustrate them with them getting their needs met. Failure to successfully complete object relations leads to all sorts of disturbances later and in some cases serious CD.

      Reading Dr Mate’s book The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts really hit home the importance of this process. Anyway enough of that I hope you have a great Christmas Lucy and if money is tight it doesn’t matter, what you have is already enough :- I am so very glad they are both out of that house and away from SB.

      1. Yes I’m glad they are with me. That little boy is my angel, sent at a tough time and gave me someone to focus on besides myself. But I wish he’d have arrived under better conditions. Poor little guy. But he is so bright, three l/2 years old and already sounding out letter sounds, trying to read. My kids didn’t do that. And he’s funny. Has my sense of humor and animation. I love that boy. 🙂

  2. Another Christmas where I will be ignored by sisters because I am too sick to make the three hour trip to see them. Neither of them have asked me what I am doing for Christmas.

    It would be a very easy trip for them to come here but they won’t, nor do I want them to. All bonds are broken and healed over. I am looking after myself by continuing in the same manner I have since coming to this site, regardless of ocassion.

    When you are ill, it becomes very apparent who has major character issues — and it doesn’t seem to be me.

    Not caring when dealing with narcissists is the best gift of all!

    1. Lisa – ignored sounds like an added boon. They are best left to their own devices anyway. I only have one sister and she’s the same ilk. I have no time for her.

      It’s going to be quiet for me too. My son and his partner are going up north to spend Christmas with his grandmother as this may be her last Christmas. So it will be just me and my friend and old mate who I take care of.

      No Christmas tree for me. I’ll just put up some colorful lights on the font deck. I’ve been invited to a couple of places and I think I’ll go to a friend’s who has a large swimming hole on her property. I can take the fur kids so we can all eat, drink and be merry together :-

      I can’t agree further and I am going to have a narc free Christmas. In fact I’m going to be a narc free zone for the rest of my life.

      1. Oh Eudoxia. It is wonderful! It has been beyond awkward in the past receiving invites, knowing I am only included to fulfill their idea of a happy loving family.

        But it was only ever an idea, born upon a cloud of angel hair, tinsel and brain dead conversation. Neither one of them care about anyone deeply at all. Not just me. It’s all superficial nonsense.

        Your Xmas sounds like it will be lovely. You can’t imagine how fantastic swimming in a swimming hole with friends sounds to those of us shivering up here!

        1. Lucy I hope your’s is everything you could want a whole lot more!

          I’m so glad your daughter and grandson are with you. Love makes the world go round and you all owe it to yourselves to have a perfect day surrounded by love and laughter. Spoil yourselves!

    2. My post about my Xmas sounds a bit boo hoo hoo-ish, self pitying. Yuk. I am going to have a really lovely Christmas with friends and brother is flying down from Alaska.

      1. Lisa nah not at all – they are what they are mate. A bunch of self absorbed losers. I hope you have a great Christmas Lisa – I think we all owe it to ourselves to have a fantastic and loving Christmas with whomever we share it with as long as it’s narc free is good for me.

        I’m kick starting my day with a champagne breakfast, smoked salmon and oysters. My plans slightly changed for after – different friend’s place different water hole but that’s where the orphans are heading and it’s closer to my place. Seeing we could be somewhat inebriated well I probably will be LOL – but I’m not driving so that will be where we go too :-

        wooo hoooooooooooo

  3. Having a happy holiday after being with a controlling narcissist can be such a breath of fresh air! I recall the first xmas spent with my young son after extricating myself from a toxic, abusive relationship. We were happy that we weren’t being forced to listen to the radio station that only played seasonal music, nor were we required to watch the marathon of that xmas movie that is played for 48 hours straight on TBS or TNT. That was many years ago.

    Holidays are meant to be cheerful and happy times. Not worrying about sullen silence over some imagined slight.

    1. Oh Cinamon,

      Being FORCED to listen to seasonal music about love and good cheer? That’s all wrong. It reminds me of a friend whose father used to abuse his wife and kids to the tune of Gregorian chants!

  4. Little Johnny’s Christmas Letter

    Dear Santa,

    You must be surprised that I’m writing to you today, the 26th of December. Well, I would very much like to clear up certain things that have occurred since the beginning of the month, when, filled with illusion, I wrote you my letter. I asked for a bicycle, an electric train set, a pair of roller blades, and a football uniform.

    I destroyed my brain studying the whole year. Not only was I the first in my class, but I had the best grades in the whole school. I’m not going to lie to you, there was no one in my entire neighborhood that behaved better than me, with my parents, my brothers, my friends, and with my neighbors. I would go on errands, and even help the elderly cross the street. There was virtually nothing within reach that I would not do for humanity.

    What balls do you have leaving me a fucking yo-yo, a stupid whistle and a pair of socks. What the f**k were you thinking, you fat son of a bitch, that you’ve taken me for a sucker the whole f**king year to come out with some shit like this under the tree. As if you hadn’t f**ked me enough, you gave that little faggot across the street so many toys that he can’t even walk into his house.

    Please don’t let me see you trying to fit your big fat ass down my chimney next year. I’ll f**k you up. I’ll throw rocks at those stupid reindeer and scare them away so you’ll have to walk back to the f**king North Pole, just like what I have to do now since you didn’t get me that f**king bike. F**k you, Santa. Next year you’ll find out how bad I can be, you fat son-of-a-bitch!


    Little Johnny

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  5. This past couple weeks I’ve been dealing with the SB trying to negotiate the sell of our home, the second marital home.
    I’m thankful for all the information and support through this site as I am dealing with a master manipulator CD. I read the emails almost as if reading a textbook on psychology. I’ve learned to “think” like the CD, trying to find the hidden agenda and purpose of each statement. I’ve gotten quite good at it. And not becoming overly emotional, still emotional of course, I’m human, but I’m not cracking.
    It’s very difficult dealing with a toxic person and I’m hopefull I’ll be done with him soon.

    1. Lucy,
      Hopefully that is your last immovable joint asset. These are hardest to share and divide even among reasonable people.
      Once sold, you will be done with him… hopefully within a month or two so that you can enjoy most of 2018. Good luck!

      1. Andy,
        This home and the stuff in it and I believe I’m done with him. It is difficult to negotiate a sell of a home when the offer is lower than it’s worth but it is the ONLY offer on a property with a very limited buying pool. I’m carrying the big debts till it sells whereas SB isn’t, so it’s not hurting him to hang onto it. So I’m not only negotiating with the prospective buyer, but also agreeing to taking less than 50 percent of the proceeds because I’m willing to go lower than he is. At every turn I get undercut. But still, I’m trying to cut my loses, because if this sale does not happen I will petition to sell at auction, which would mean big loss.
        But to have this over with will be priceless.

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