Holiday Feelings: Are They Merry or Stressful?

Posted by Teresa, Volunteer Mentor @hopeful33250, Dec 18, 2018

We are in the middle of a holiday season marked by twinkling lights, music, movies and sentiments that are supposed to bring joy and cheer. What if you don’t feel those sentiments right now? Is that OK?

Perhaps you have experienced difficulties, maybe health problems, loss of a job, or loss of a loved one. Maybe it is not possible to work-up the holiday cheer that everyone else experiences.

What do we do with the holidays if we are not feeling cheerful and upbeat?

Let's share together what you are doing with your less-than-merry holiday feelings.

Thank you for posting this, Teresa. i was so stressed yesterday and today – trying to get last minute gifts bought, all gifts wrapped, some gifts mailed… I just felt overwhelmed. It helped me to make a list to really identify exactly what remained to be done. And then, tomorrow, on my list… I'm going to take some time for me. Maybe I will sit and look at the ocean, maybe I will walk… it's "me time" and I can do anything I want. I've penciled it in. LOL

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@debbraw

Thank you for posting this, Teresa. i was so stressed yesterday and today – trying to get last minute gifts bought, all gifts wrapped, some gifts mailed… I just felt overwhelmed. It helped me to make a list to really identify exactly what remained to be done. And then, tomorrow, on my list… I'm going to take some time for me. Maybe I will sit and look at the ocean, maybe I will walk… it's "me time" and I can do anything I want. I've penciled it in. LOL

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@debbraw everything you,ve done you deserve a walk on the beach or sit and listen to the ocean

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@debbraw

Thank you for posting this, Teresa. i was so stressed yesterday and today – trying to get last minute gifts bought, all gifts wrapped, some gifts mailed… I just felt overwhelmed. It helped me to make a list to really identify exactly what remained to be done. And then, tomorrow, on my list… I'm going to take some time for me. Maybe I will sit and look at the ocean, maybe I will walk… it's "me time" and I can do anything I want. I've penciled it in. LOL

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Great idea, @debbraw. We all need some breaks when holiday stress becomes too much.

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There is nothing written in stone that we have to be cheerful and upbeat! That's what I have never understood, as someone on the autism spectrum, that I am expected to act a certain way. I am not a cheerful and upbeat person by my base nature, so why should I try to be somebody I'm not? I will socialize to the point that I am comfortable and not push- nor will I be pushed -into a situation that is outside of my comfort zone. This is new response for me in the last 10 years. Does it make me popular with a lot of people? No it does not, but I cannot live my life for others. I have to honor myself first. If that means stepping away from social engagement, I am fine with that. If others are not oh, well, that's their problem!
Ginger

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@gingerw you sound like me . a lot of people don't like what I say or do but that's there problem not mine

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For me, the holidays are less about gifts and decorations, and more about enjoying experiences like band concerts, a small local ballet production of the Nutcracker, and seeing my cousin ice skate in the holiday skating show where she teaches. If we look at holidays as a task and a list of things to do by a big deadline, that creates stress. If I look at it as a time to enjoy seeing friends and family, it is something fun to look forward to. Yesterday, I had to pick up some medical supplies for my mom, and I held the door open for a lady with a walker who was headed into the same store. She thanked me, and she thanked me again as I was leaving. I told her Merry Christmas. Something as simple as that can brighten your spirits to share kindness, not just at the holidays, but any day.

I do remember one year when I was young that I didn't want Christmas to come. It seemed like everyone else was happy, and I was alone with a broken heart. My dad had a connection with a commander at Great Lakes Naval Base, and he wanted to cheer me up, so we invited eight sailors to our house for Christmas dinner who could not go home to their families. Some didn't have close families. All of them were hand picked by their commander and we had to pick them up in the morning and return them to the base that night.

I think of this as a "Blue and White Christmas" because they all came in their dress blue uniforms and white sailors caps and were so polite. We had a turkey with all the side dishes and lots of desserts. I couldn't figure out why any of them took any beer and instead chose soda to drink. We were not beer drinkers, but had beer for our guests. Finally I asked, and found out they were worried about what we might say about them if they were drinking beer. So we assured them not to worry and just enjoy the day away from the base, and they did. I felt better about Christmas that year because I shared it with others who needed this just as much as I did. I've also learned to just accept what comes and to enjoy things that are a bit different. I actually like things simple.

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Winter. Holidays start for me October 1st. One son and my husband have birthdays; Veterans' Day; Halloween; semi-annual trip to Mayo; Thanksgiving; Holiday Concerts, services and plays; Parades; Christmas Lights and Decorations; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, my other son and I have birthdays in early January; Wedding Anniversary. Finally January 15th we are done with the Winter Holidays. Notice I did not mention cooking or baking. Sometimes I do, most times I do not. I used to love it all and enter into as much as possible with great enthusiasm. But, and it's a big but, much of my holiday spirit has been tempered with family rifts; being disowned by family members; broken promises; an abusive relationship; alcoholism; unappreciated gifts; demanding and ungrateful family; and abandonment by friends. I have lived this life and deserve to remember the pain and agony that has been inflected upon me. I am not a grump or Scrooge, but I also am no longer the exuberant Christmas Elf I once was. I no longer lead. I wait for invitations and inclusion. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not. It is actually a sad time of year for me.

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@2011panc

Winter. Holidays start for me October 1st. One son and my husband have birthdays; Veterans' Day; Halloween; semi-annual trip to Mayo; Thanksgiving; Holiday Concerts, services and plays; Parades; Christmas Lights and Decorations; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, my other son and I have birthdays in early January; Wedding Anniversary. Finally January 15th we are done with the Winter Holidays. Notice I did not mention cooking or baking. Sometimes I do, most times I do not. I used to love it all and enter into as much as possible with great enthusiasm. But, and it's a big but, much of my holiday spirit has been tempered with family rifts; being disowned by family members; broken promises; an abusive relationship; alcoholism; unappreciated gifts; demanding and ungrateful family; and abandonment by friends. I have lived this life and deserve to remember the pain and agony that has been inflected upon me. I am not a grump or Scrooge, but I also am no longer the exuberant Christmas Elf I once was. I no longer lead. I wait for invitations and inclusion. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not. It is actually a sad time of year for me.

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I appreciate your honest appraisal of the holidays, @2011panc. It sounds like stress permeates this time of year. It is important to be true to yourself. I expect other Members may post similar feelings about this time of year.

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@jenniferhunter

For me, the holidays are less about gifts and decorations, and more about enjoying experiences like band concerts, a small local ballet production of the Nutcracker, and seeing my cousin ice skate in the holiday skating show where she teaches. If we look at holidays as a task and a list of things to do by a big deadline, that creates stress. If I look at it as a time to enjoy seeing friends and family, it is something fun to look forward to. Yesterday, I had to pick up some medical supplies for my mom, and I held the door open for a lady with a walker who was headed into the same store. She thanked me, and she thanked me again as I was leaving. I told her Merry Christmas. Something as simple as that can brighten your spirits to share kindness, not just at the holidays, but any day.

I do remember one year when I was young that I didn't want Christmas to come. It seemed like everyone else was happy, and I was alone with a broken heart. My dad had a connection with a commander at Great Lakes Naval Base, and he wanted to cheer me up, so we invited eight sailors to our house for Christmas dinner who could not go home to their families. Some didn't have close families. All of them were hand picked by their commander and we had to pick them up in the morning and return them to the base that night.

I think of this as a "Blue and White Christmas" because they all came in their dress blue uniforms and white sailors caps and were so polite. We had a turkey with all the side dishes and lots of desserts. I couldn't figure out why any of them took any beer and instead chose soda to drink. We were not beer drinkers, but had beer for our guests. Finally I asked, and found out they were worried about what we might say about them if they were drinking beer. So we assured them not to worry and just enjoy the day away from the base, and they did. I felt better about Christmas that year because I shared it with others who needed this just as much as I did. I've also learned to just accept what comes and to enjoy things that are a bit different. I actually like things simple.

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What a great story about the sailors who came for Christmas!! It really was a Blue and White Christmas. Your dad was so wise to plan it that way. You make some good observations, @jenniferhunter, about accepting what comes and enjoying things that are a bit different. Yes, simple pleasures can make life happier and also help take the focus off of "what isn't."

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@gingerw

There is nothing written in stone that we have to be cheerful and upbeat! That's what I have never understood, as someone on the autism spectrum, that I am expected to act a certain way. I am not a cheerful and upbeat person by my base nature, so why should I try to be somebody I'm not? I will socialize to the point that I am comfortable and not push- nor will I be pushed -into a situation that is outside of my comfort zone. This is new response for me in the last 10 years. Does it make me popular with a lot of people? No it does not, but I cannot live my life for others. I have to honor myself first. If that means stepping away from social engagement, I am fine with that. If others are not oh, well, that's their problem!
Ginger

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I always appreciate your honesty about who you are, @gingerw.

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@2011panc

Winter. Holidays start for me October 1st. One son and my husband have birthdays; Veterans' Day; Halloween; semi-annual trip to Mayo; Thanksgiving; Holiday Concerts, services and plays; Parades; Christmas Lights and Decorations; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, my other son and I have birthdays in early January; Wedding Anniversary. Finally January 15th we are done with the Winter Holidays. Notice I did not mention cooking or baking. Sometimes I do, most times I do not. I used to love it all and enter into as much as possible with great enthusiasm. But, and it's a big but, much of my holiday spirit has been tempered with family rifts; being disowned by family members; broken promises; an abusive relationship; alcoholism; unappreciated gifts; demanding and ungrateful family; and abandonment by friends. I have lived this life and deserve to remember the pain and agony that has been inflected upon me. I am not a grump or Scrooge, but I also am no longer the exuberant Christmas Elf I once was. I no longer lead. I wait for invitations and inclusion. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not. It is actually a sad time of year for me.

Jump to this post

@2011panc Just be true to yourself. My husband died on Dec 22so I cant wait for Dec to be over but I know how its important for other people so I dont do anything on Christmas. My niece in Ga is a ballerina and was lead in the nutcracker so I will watch the dvd of her.

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Hello~

Mayo has an article on Mindfulness and Self Care during the holidays which I think you will all find helpful:

Mayo Mindfulness: Slow down for self-care during the holidays

"There are all kinds of stress and anxieties during the holidays. Strained relationships, unrealistic expectations, financial difficulties — the list can go on.

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. A small amount of stress can be good, motivating you to perform well. But multiple challenges can push you beyond your ability to cope, especially during the holidays.

Dr. Beth Rush, a Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist, says that when you are stressed, it becomes that much more important to take care of yourself. Sleep, eat well, make sure you’re exercising. Look for signs of stress in your life.

"I think self-care is important year-round. If you’re feeling frustrated, short on time, impatient, you have to go back to the basics of: 'Have I done anything for myself today? Should I take a minute? Do I have to be the one who does it all?,'" says Dr. Rush. “We tend to think of self-care as always going out and doing something like getting our nails done or going to the gym, but sometimes self-care is about just pausing. I think that’s something we recognize is becoming more important: learning how to slow down.”

Dr. Rush says self-care can be as simple as being still at your desk, breathing, shutting your eyes, and closing out all the other things you’re thinking about and not responding.

Watch Dr. Rush talks about slowing down for self-care during the holidays.
Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Rush are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please ‘Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.’

Try these five strategies when you’re feeling overwhelmed or emotionally drained.

Move. Physical activity can relieve stress. Movement releases feel-good endorphins into the blood stream, which can improve your mood. Whether it’s going for a light jog or taking the stairs a few times during the day, the key is to get moving.
Breathe. Just three minutes of deep breathing can turn stress into a feeling of tranquility. Not to mention, deep breathing brings oxygen to energy-building muscles, making all of your cells happy.
Be positive. Long lines at the store or traffic jams can put anyone in a bad mood. Instead of getting grouchy, try this simple exercise: Replace any negative thought with three positive thoughts. Research shows that this can lead to an increased life span, immunity against illnesses, and physical and psychological well-being.
Laugh. Laughter causes physical changes in the body that promote health. Watch a funny movie or TV show with your family,and feel the stress dissipate with each chuckle.
Express gratitude. Being grateful doesn’t mean denying what is going on in your life, but rather focusing on all of the good that surrounds you. It’s refreshing to count your blessings as opposed to being negative."

After reading these I have decided that I need to breathe more when I'm feeling stressed and laugh more (sitcoms work for me).

What would you like to do to relieve stress during this holiday season?

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@lioness

@2011panc Just be true to yourself. My husband died on Dec 22so I cant wait for Dec to be over but I know how its important for other people so I dont do anything on Christmas. My niece in Ga is a ballerina and was lead in the nutcracker so I will watch the dvd of her.

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Great idea, @lioness~ I love the Nutcracker and knowing one of the performers makes it that much more special.

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@hopeful33250

Great idea, @lioness~ I love the Nutcracker and knowing one of the performers makes it that much more special.

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@hopeful33250 Yes it does My brother sent it to me

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@lioness

@2011panc Just be true to yourself. My husband died on Dec 22so I cant wait for Dec to be over but I know how its important for other people so I dont do anything on Christmas. My niece in Ga is a ballerina and was lead in the nutcracker so I will watch the dvd of her.

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@lioness Thanks for your honesty. I would feel the same way. That is so nice that your niece dances and I admire people who have that capability. You must be very proud of her. I recently went to a very small production of the nutcracker and I talked to the director afterward and she let me come into a rehearsal and take pictures. I'm interested in doing some artwork of dancers. I wanted to take ballet class when I was little and my mom didn't let me. I love the artistry of it and the beauty of the human form in motion.

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