For the majority of people, Christmas is a time of celebration. It is a time of giving and caring and carols and sleigh rides and Santa and church choirs and nativity scenes...but for a small percentage of the population, there is what I call Christmas Dread. What is Christmas Dread you ask?
Well...Christmas Dread is an extreme apprehension or reluctance over the Christmas season. For some of us...Christmas was NOT a magical time filled with joy...for some, it brings back memories of tragedy that may have struck during what was supposed to be a festive time of year. Some have experienced the loss of someone very close during the holidays, for others, they may have been serving our country in a forward area overseas and met with traumatic conditions. Still others endured growing up poor and never having a home in which to celebrate the holiday, or no presents, or abuse of many kinds, or the loss a sense of security...maybe over a traumatic home robbery.
Yes, for some...Christmas is anything but celebratory. Anything but...magical. Many have good reason to dread its arrival. But the holiday none the less, will arrive. It will come complete with all the memories attached to it, good or bad...but it WILL arrive. So what can one do to ease the stress and lesson the dread of such an event?
Well...first...one must recognize that our experiences are only given place in our mindspace...by us. It would serve us well in other words, to limit the amount of space we allow these dreadful memories to take up. They steal away from us, the time we have now to make new, better memories.
I don't say this lightly and without heartfelt concern for those who struggle. For I know first hand. As a person who grew up in an abusive home, I can tell you of horrible experiences that took place during the Christmas Season. But I have chosen a different path. I have chosen to find ways to reintroduce the Christmas holiday and REPLACE those dreadful memories with new ones which contain the things that bring ME happiness and joy. Here are a few suggestions to help you reignite the spirit of the holidays and make it the best ever...for you...
SEND A CHRISTMAS CARD...TO YOURSELF! It may sound a little goofy...but send yourself a Christmas card! Write something in it that will wish you well and inspire you to find better ways to interpret the holidays!
Write something like..."I know this is a difficult time of year for you because of (fill in the blank), but this holiday, I hope you can do (fill in the blank) to make new memories."
WRITE SOMEONE A LETTER... Maybe you don't have money...maybe you have no family around,but you can always find a way to write a letter. You could write it to a military person overseas...maybe to a shut-in with whom you are familiar.
VOLUNTEER... Find ways to give. I'm telling you...nothing can help get rid of those yucky feelings better than trying to find a way to make someone else's Christmas better. As a person who understands the sadness of the holidays...who better to help others through theirs...than you...who knows...you may end up helping each other!
If you are able... go out...if you are NOT able to go out...invite someone in. Getting outdoors and spending a little time in the sun each day raises your Vitamin D levels which increases your serotonin levels. This makes you less depressed AND...lowers your blood pressure! Besides...from one person with depression and anxiety to another...I can tell you...I always feel a little better when I've FORCED myself to spend at least a half an our in the fresh air.
Understand...I am not suggesting any of this is just...easy peasy. But what is the alternative? Will you continue to allow past dreadful memories to steal away opportunities to replace them with good ones? Or will you reach out...and help yourself? A person can ALWAYS find a reason to smile during the Holidays. The past is the past and it isn't easy to think differently about it...but it is NOT impossible. I am LIVING PROOF that one can find new ways to replace old dread. I hope this helps...just look at the picture below and tell me there's no place to find joy at Christmas! You get to choose how to respond and how to feel. Choose to be happy and find a reason.
About the Author
Braden Daniels was born in Saginaw, Michigan and has been writing articles and books for over 30 years.