The radio, TV commercials, and even our local grocery stores remind us every day from November to January that it’s the “most wonderful time of the year.” For many, this is true; but, if you’re like me, the holidays can be a jumble of emotions. This time might not be your “season to be Jolly,” and I’m here to tell you: That one, that’s perfectly okay, and two, I may be able to help you find your Jolly, on your terms.
Romance and partnership are ingrained ideas of this time of year, and while we love love, not being partnered during this time can feel lonely, emotional, or like you’re missing out. The same can be said about the holidays’ connection to family. Although familial love and togetherness are wonderful, they’re not everyone’s reality. For those of us far away from family or removed to protect our peace, this season’s expectations can make it feel like we’re doing something wrong.
For me, more often than not, I celebrate this time of year alone. What I’ve come to realize is that this decision does not determine my relationship with my family or my level of happiness; it’s simply what works for me and what I choose to do. I’ve worked to not allow media and/or others’ opinions make me feel lonely, sad, or less than. I know I am whole within myself, and I want you to know that you are too.
No matter how much we are bombarded with the idea that we MUST be surrounded by loved ones 24/7 during the holiday season, we don’t. In the grand scheme of things, dates and time are man-made concepts. So are the notions of how you do or don’t spend them, and who you spend them with. Who’s to say that moments spent with loved ones outside of the holidays are any less meaningful, or that our “loved ones” must be family members?
Allow yourself to see this time with the same wide-eyed wonder you did as a child. Play your favorite songs and dance freely, embracing your spirit and the joy inside you. Reflect on what this time means to you, journal, and reach out to those who fill your heart no matter how far away they may be. I find beauty in the twinkling lights that warm the streets and enjoy cozy-smelling candles paired with dim lighting and horrible, yet delightful, Hallmark movies.
As always, I want you to know that you are not alone, and “holiday norms” do not need to define what this time means for you. I encourage you to reclaim these expectations and shift the narrative to find your Jolly. If the holiday season is harder for you, I encourage you to lean into things about this time that make you happy, whatever they may be, and challenge the ideas imposed upon you that don’t suit you.
My wish is for you to celebrate the holidays your way, and that you free yourself from all outside noise. To help you find your jolly, here are 5 helpful tips to keep in mind this season, especially if you’re feeling down.
#1: Embrace the Moment
Move through this time with a giving spirit — for yourself and those around you. If you choose to celebrate with others, involve yourself in the action by offering your help with cooking, preparing, or cleaning. Or, practice these actions for yourself! The contribution you make to the whole or the kindness you gift yourself will help you feel more connected to the moment and its opportunities for happiness.
#2: Communicate with Love
Speak to yourself lovingly, lean on those you trust and love, share your needs with a touch of kindness, and listen without interruption. If you find yourself in group settings where conversation drifts toward a negative direction or its spotlight becomes a one-man show, try to gently change its course and open a dialogue of shared stories that give everyone a voice. Above all, follow this same practice with your internal conversations.
#3: Lean on Your Boundaries
Know your limits! Imagine them as an invisible fence that surrounds you with peace and shields you from unwanted experiences. Your boundaries are personal, valid, and necessary. Honoring and kindly expressing them will allow you to spend your time exactly how you want to and share it with those who respect your needs. If you’re looking for ways to redefine or enhance your boundaries, I highly recommend checking out Sarri Gilman, LMFT, author of Transform Your Boundaries and an expert on the topic!
#4: Release Your Inner Child
Who says games are just for kids? Welcome activities, play, or traditions that spark creativity and/or bring you back to your younger days, whether they’re solo or shared with loved ones. I guarantee you’ll notice a lightness around you that provokes laughter, storytelling, and the most cherished memories. So deal the cards, roll the dice, and let the good times roll!
#5: Open Your Heart and Release Judgment
Our minds can often play tricks on us and perpetuate negative, self-fulfilling prophecies. I encourage you to shed these misconceptions like you would a snow-drenched coat, by reminding yourself that you are worthy, whole, and powerful. When negative thoughts arise, tell them they’re not welcome and fill their spot with loving affirmations. Take notice of how this shift in mindset impacts you and those around you — it’s amazing how treating yourself with kindness transcends.
As you take on this holiday season and the emotions it brings, whatever those may be, I hope I’ve encouraged you to embrace this time of year in your unique and wonderful ways. Whether you’re spending this time surrounded by loved ones or basking in your own company, remember that your happiness and peace of mind come first. Let’s reclaim the holidays on our terms, savor the moment and its sparkle, and believe in our power to find your Jolly.
From my heart to yours, I wish you a happy and fulfilling holiday season. You deserve it!