Christmas time is supposed to be a time of joy, but many of us are facing a dilemma or difficulty during this festive season; dealing with strained relationships, worried about illness, jobs or money, or grieving a loss. Christmas isn’t all glowing fairy lights and happy families for everyone and this may make the Christmas season particularly difficult. Christmas adverts, decorated places and holiday movies that seem magical when your life is going well, can amplify your painful feelings if things are rough.
During the rest of the year, most people seem to have highs and lows and it might feel more comfortable to open up and talk about our difficulties. During Christmas time, when we are invited to so many parties and events, many people feel that they should not talk about difficult issues and feel forced to put on a smile so as not to feel like a burden to others who seem to be having a good time.
The truth is that if we are grieving, we grieve all year round and for this reason, we have to live with the grief even during the festive season. If we are worried, no materialistic gift will put our mind at rest, and if we are afraid about an important life change, no amount of Christmas greetings would give us courage. It might be tempting to try and avoid experiencing these emotions altogether. However, if we don’t allow ourselves the space to experience difficult emotions, grow with them, and acknowledge them daily, these feelings pop up in the most unexpected times. They pop up when we are decorating our tree, or writing a Christmas card. They pop up during a chat with a friend or on a Sunday morning as we are having breakfast. They pop up when we ‘should’ be happy, and this may bring a paralyzing sense of dread. When we allow ourselves to carry grief, worry and pain and learn how to hold it and to feel it deeply, these feelings can’t pop up and startle us anymore. They can’t terrify us or destroy us out of nowhere, and we no longer have to fight them down.
In the second part of this blog I shall be discussing some strategies which may help us cope better during this time.
Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.