Several years ago I found myself unable to get out of bed a week leading up to Christmas. I remember the day so clearly. The sun was streaming in from my apartment windows, bouncing light up from my glittery coffee table. As I laid there awake, I just stared at the sunlight streaming in. I knew I needed to get up and get moving. But tears rolled down my face and a few minutes later I was sobbing. Those ugly, full blown sobs. But the thing was that I couldn’t point out what was wrong exactly. I just felt sad. Soon after my head started to throb. That dull, aching, annoying, never ending throb. It just kept going and going and going. Finally, four hours later, I was hungry enough to get out of bed.
Looking back on this now, I see what was going on. I had no plans for Christmas that was coming up. I was about to spend my first Christmas alone. And I was dreading it.
Then the big day came. I remember waking up feeling surprisingly calm. To distract myself, I volunteered at a homeless shelter. That helped for a few hours. But when nighttime hit, the calmness was over. I turned into a mess. I cried and felt so sorry for myself. I realized that I should have just spent the money to buy a flight so I could be around family. I wasn’t prepared for the loneliness and the ache I felt from missing my Mom. Missing my Dad. Missing my friends. Missing my fiancé. I can still feel the pang of the emptiness in my chest and stomach.
From that experience, I vowed to never let the holidays destroy me again. From this, I learned that commanding joy during the holidays was going to take some serious planning, focus, and dedication. Not only making sure I have actual plans for the big day but making sure I have a solution for all of the moments when I am going to feel overwhelmed. From spending money to the traffic to the airport chaos during this time of year.
So how do we deal? When the feelings of stress start to rise up, and you know they will, prepare yourself and commit to staying merry and bright with these 3 tips.