The end of the year is here, and with it comes the holidays. Honestly, I don’t care what you have to say about it, I’m ready for Christmas music, I’m ready for ice skating, I’m ready for Thanksgiving food. But you can’t judge me for being so ready for the holidays because Forever 21 sent me an email about their ugly Christmas sweaters at 10pm on October 31. They didn’t even wait until midnight so it would officially be November. I also saw 3 different kinds of Christmas commercials on television in the span of 2 hours, and Whoopi Goldberg was on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to talk about her line of ugly Christmas sweaters. (It seems like ugly Christmas sweaters are going to be a theme this year). So I’m not alone.
However, with the influx of holiday cheer blanketing our television sets and flowing through the streets in the form of Christmas lights and Salvation Army bell ringers, there also comes the less cheery side of the holidays. Pressure and depression go hand in hand this time of year and affects more people than we would like to believe. The Nyack NYC campus has experienced these feelings on a deep level during recent weeks, and it has the potential to grow stronger this Holiday season if we allow it to. So, here are 5 ways to not allow the Holiday cheer to get you down.
- Don’t Have High Expectations
I know everyone is always saying to set your expectations high and shoot for the sky because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. In fact, that last one is one of my favorite quotes. However, it’s been proven that people who set high expectations are more likely to be disappointed. If your expectations are lower, there is less room for disappointment because you weren’t expecting much in the first place. Granted, this approach does sound a little depressing in its own right, but if the Holidays are a source of stress for you then the last thing you need to be doing is building it up to be something it is never going to be. Plan for a low-key Holiday season. Have a Friendsgiving and go out to eat with friends on Thanksgiving Day, or plan to volunteer somewhere on Christmas Day instead of staying home and unwrapping presents. Planning a chill day takes away unwanted and unnecessary stress.
This goes hand in hand with my suggestions from #1. Volunteering at soup kitchens on Thanksgiving is one of the most rewarding experiences. You wholly forget about yourself for hours and focus solely on the people in front of you. Handing out food or pouring juice are small tasks, but they are anything but mundane when your heart is in the right place. Ever since I moved to New York 2 years ago, it has been my new tradition to volunteer at some kind of shelter, soup kitchen, or food drive during the holidays. I highly recommend it!
- Have a Good Support System
Now is the time of year that family members who somehow seem to remember us since our diaper days come from near and far to celebrate the Holidays with us. Family is great, they truly are; however, they can be a handful as well. It’s common to dread the influx of out-of-towners that are heading your way when you know they have a history of asking too many questions and pointing out too many of your flaws. Granted, they probably do so because they care so much (too much?) but there is often a line that doesn’t need to be crossed. So before things get crazy, take the time to contact the people in your life who don’t drive you crazy: your best friends, other family members, maybe even a professor who always hears you out – and stay in contact with these people through January. They will keep you calm and remind you that you’re not going through this season alone. A good, strong support system is crucial.
- Remember Loved Ones
It is also the time of year where memories of loved ones who have passed start to flood our memories. Maybe it’s the cheeriness of the season, maybe it’s the lost loved one’s love for the season – whatever it may be, it causes a cloud to cover our holiday spirit and that cloud tends to stay with us all the way through January – which is going to be unacceptable this year. God did not give us a spirit of grief.
- Remember Why We Celebrate
I’m not going to sit here and type out: Jesus is the reason for the season (even though I just did) because it’s corny and you’ve heard it before. But it’s true, alright. He is also our rock. He never abandons us, and He is as reliable as ever. Putting any kind of trust in Him is a smart move because He cannot disappoint. If we celebrate Him instead of the hype of the season itself, there is never disappointment. I love the hype as much as the next person, but I also realize that it is short-lived and ultimately, not worth a thing.
This holiday does not have to be like the last. We are overcomers, and we have the power of pure Joy on our side. Let’s tap into that Joy we have on the inside and fight against holiday depression this year.