We can deck the halls, or we can leave them well alone! There is such a bias towards happiness, crowds, expenditure, and loudness during the December holidays. Can this time be sad, lonely, poor, and quiet? Sure, it can. I think it’s high time we normalized this state of being. For some, the holidays are also triggering and remind them of past trauma. Others prefer to be alone over the holidays and refuse to spend extravagantly. This is fine, too. Everyone treats the most wonderful time of the year differently. Prioritizing mental health during the holidays especially should be the common base.
Desensitized by our Biases
We often go out of our way to include those who do not do what we do during the holidays in our festivities as a gesture of goodwill. What if we sensitize ourselves to those who do not want to be forced into such activities?
The holidays are an exciting time to take a break and spend the end of a hard year with family and friends. There are those, though, who do have families and have been alone all their lives. Nothing may have happened that is worth celebrating. Sometimes, it may just take a phone call to let them know you are thinking of them. If that’s all they need, respect that.
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Christmas and Trauma Should Never Belong in the Same Sentence
For some people, Christmas may be a time of trauma. There may have been a terrible event that occurred during the holidays. They may have grown up with food insecurity and had nothing to eat on Christmas Day. Bad mental health can take many shapes and sizes.
Being sensitive to mental health during the holidays means that we do not force these people into our world, but we get down to their level. Hurt with them and realize that not everyone feels the same as you do. It’s called empathy. If all they want is a hotdog, do not give them a piece of Christmas turkey with all the trimmings; it means nothing to them.
Let’s Prioritize Gift Healthy Mental Health
Let’s harness our empathy rather than Santa’s reindeer. Ever wonder what might happen if Santa took time off to appreciate those who did not want gifts? The naughty list becomes the empathy list. He can choose to focus on those who may not deserve presents and maybe do not want them at all.
What if Christmas had a leap year where once every four years, we made 25 December a non-Christmas day? Perhaps those who don’t need the commotion that the day usually brings will appreciate that. Maybe if Santa and all of us dressed down for the holidays to make those who don’t have or don’t spend feel comfortable, it might make the period a little more tolerable for some.
I don’t want to celebrate every birthday and even every Christmas is not the same. Sometimes you want to hide under the covers and avoid all the attention. The reality is that those who find happiness during the holidays outnumber those who do not. So, it’s important to take a moment and think about their mental health as well.
How Can You Help People With Poor Mental Health During The Holidays?
The commercialization and emphasis on spending mean that everyone is surrounded by the seasonal festivities for at least three months prior to Christmas Day. There is no way for anyone to avoid the atmosphere. You have to be intentionally quiet and choose not to participate – maybe not even go out – to keep your sanity.
It would be completely selfless to put aside what we always do during this time to make space for those who don’t want to celebrate – for whatever reason. Have a regular meal, dress down, omit the tree and decorations, and mute the Christmas carols. Loners, introverts, and traumatized individuals have just as much reason to avoid celebrating as we do to celebrate. Let’s make that normal. Let’s give mental health a chance before all the beautiful snow, red socks, trees, and multiple gifts.