Christmas is coming: are we obliged to be happy?
Tips to live Christmas in an emotionally healthy way, without giving in to social pressure.
Every year it comes earlier and earlier. Lights, perfume advertisements, toys, people showing off their happiness, etc. But... are we really obliged to enter into this current of consumerist good cheer if deep down we don't feel good? The answer is no.
Nor is it a question of becoming the Grinch, that character who hated Christmas with all his soul... but we have the right to listen to ourselves and act accordingly.
There are many reasons why we may feel rejection to these holidays. Because of the absence of a loved one, because you have to work, because you are far from home, because you simply don't agree with what they want to sell us as "Christmas". None of this is a serious problem in itself, but combined with social pressure, it can cause us to combined with social pressure, it can plunge us into a mild depressive state..
Tips to spend an emotionally healthy Christmas
It is clear that the simple fact that Christmas exists does not mean that we have to live these dates feeling at the peak of happiness. At the same time, it is also clear that we can't go around feeding our frustrations because we are far from the ideal "Christmas spirit.. As always, there is virtue in balance; the only thing that happens is that this holiday has many traditional and cultural elements with a strong emotional charge: family dinners, toasts for those who are not here, gifts...
Here are some tips to make the most of Christmas:
1. Don't feel obligated to participate in events
If there are things that you really don't feel like doing but there is a certain social pressure that pushes you to do them, cut your losses: cancel the effects of that social pressure by by communicating to others, in an assertive way, why you don't want to participate in certain things.. If you do this in a way that makes your point of view clear, it is very likely that they will understand, especially if during the rest of the year you tend to be a person who enjoys participating in comparable social events.
However, in the case of family events, keep in mind that these have a special symbolic charge and that at the most important ones your absence may be interpreted as a sign that something is wrong. The degree to which you manage to become "independent" of these traditions depends on your communication skills.
2. Give yourself a gift
It never hurts to take advantage of the days of Christmas to give yourself a small gift, since at this time there are many new products that go on sale. It's a way of turning one of the ideas of Christmas on its head; instead of entering into the logic of gift-giving competition, you invest in a reminder that your well-being and self-esteem also count, you invest in a reminder that your well-being and self-esteem count too..
As long as you don't fall into a spiral of consumerism and keep your focus fixed on the goal of giving yourself a little treat, you'll be fine. The more personal and meaningful a self-gift is to you, the easier it will be to let go of the obsession to buy for the sake of buying.
3. Share your time with your loved ones, if you wish, as much as you like, and as much as you can.
Another useful tip to make Christmas your own and prevent it from dominating you is to create your own calendar of events and encourage your loved ones to participate in them. For example, if at Christmas you usually have more work than usual, propose a dinner with your closest friends in one of the weeks after Christmas as an alternative as an alternative to meeting on a Friday when you will be up until dinnertime filling out documents.
4. Have a nice memento for those who are missing
Take the opportunity to remember loved ones who are no longer with you, since you will probably have memories of Christmases past with them. But if that makes you feel bad, don't force yourself to do it.Everything must be done in its own time.
5. Don't be grumpy
If you waste too much energy expressing your frustration with the concept of Christmas, you'll only make Christmas more important in your life, but not in the way you'd like it to be. Every complaint will be reinforcing the little ritual of making your dislike of the holiday clear, which in turn will keep you in that discomfort.
Also, if your problem is that you are frustrated to see that others are not against Christmas, this kind of complaints will hardly convince someone who has been enjoying this holiday all his life: arguments hardly beat emotions.
6. And remember, January 7 is just around the corner.
Christmas is still a set of days; if we broaden the focus, we will see that technically they are just another time of the year, like any other. It's entirely possible that by the end of Twelfth Night we will have gone through the festivities without even noticing it if we have chosen not to get involved in the tradition. In any case, it is important not to lose sight of the brevity of Christmas and its symbolic and cultural character.
Do you need professional help?
If you have a problem with these dates because they make you feel bad, you should know that psychologists are trained to deal with most emotional problems that arise especially in these days. If you are interested in knowing how we work in Despertares Psicólogos, click here to see the contact details of our psychotherapy center in Madrid. We are also in Móstoles, Getafe and Leganés.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)