Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time. There are images everywhere of warm firesides, reunions, festive families and stories with magically happy outcomes. But what if your ‘story’ feels more like a tragedy? How do you cope with sadness when all around you is celebration?
WHY IT’S WORSE AT CHRISTMAS
It’s not hard to understand why sadness is worse at Christmas. Your inner state of mind seems even worse, by contrast with the happy images around you. We are brought up to believe that Christmas is enchanted, that everything comes good at this time of year, with ‘tidings of great joy’, that dreams come true and prayers are answered.
When your hopes and dreams are far from realised, when you are coping with loss and heartache, salt is rubbed in the wound. You also are brought up against the fact that enchantment has fled from your life. No wonder this can be cold and barren. However, there is always hope, as we will see in this article.
GOING WITH THE YULETIDE FLOW
Christmas is, of course, the ancient festival of Yuletide, the Midwinter Solstice. At the Solstice the sun appears to stand still in the sky, hesitating at its furthest point, as if it may never return. To ancient peoples this was a pivotal time, when darkness began to shift towards light. In the depth of darkness there was much celebration, because now the time of Light was, and is, gaining in power. But that time of brightness is not yet here – it is to come.
So it is with you, if you feel bereft, lonely and sad. You may feel at one with the gloom, as if it will never clear, and unable to enter into the festivities. That’s understandable. However, Nature brings us a message – that what goes down must come up, that what dies is reborn and the wheel of the seasons turns inexorably. You may now be going through a very dark time, and you may not be able to imagine things being better. However, get better they will, if you give them a chance, and your own Springtime will appear in ways you can’t now imagine.
Keeping faith can be the hardest task. If you have lost someone or something you hold dear, or you simply feel lost and empty, believing in better may be next to impossible. Encourage yourself with real life stories of people who have come through tragedy to happiness and success – it really could happen to you.
Nurture whatever spirituality you have. Go to church if that is your belief, or spend extra time meditating, or on a Buddhist retreat. When the ‘ordinary’ world lets us down, deeper meanings have to take over. If you find this hard to pursue in the hustle and bustle of the season, take yourself out of the chaos into a situation where you can connect with something eternal.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Maybe you’re telling yourself you ‘should’ cheer up. After all, you don’t want to spoil the fun for others. Especially if your sadness is to do with depression and has no obvious cause, you may feel like a wet blanket – and that will only make you feel worse again.
There are no ‘shoulds’ and you cannot help how you feel. If you don’t want to come on all ‘Bah! Humbug!’ keep away from merrymakers, and be yourself. The most important thing is to accept yourself and your feelings – you can’t help them and would hardly chose them. Fighting against feelings is totally counter-productive, creating the opposite effect from the one desired.
Be understanding towards yourself, pamper yourself and show yourself loving kindness. Behave as if you were your own best friend. By complete sympathetic acceptance of yourself you can begin the process of recovery.
SOME PRACTICAL IDEAS
Reflecting on your feelings and being honest with yourself is one thing. Taking action may be another. If you feel sad and disconnected from the fun, why not make other arrangements? Explain to friends and family exactly how you are feeling and perhaps take a holiday, go on a retreat, help out at charities or simply lock the door and have a three-day P-J party for one. Being alone is not weird or unhealthy – it may be just what you need to get you through, so listen to yourself.
HOW WE CAN HELP
We’ve looked at why sadness can feel worse at Christmas, going with the Yuletide flow, keeping faith, being kind to yourself and some practical ideas for getting by. Hopefully some of this will be helpful to you. However, if it really does all seem too much and you need some extra TLC, our kind and knowledgeable Readers are always on hand to cheer you up, so don’t delay – put in a call today.
PUBLISHED: 19 December 2016