Why The Holidays Can Cause Distressing Feelings

Christmas is traditionally referred to as "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." As the late Andy Williams sang, this is true for many of us. Christmas is commonly associated with joy, friends, and family, as well as joyous occasions. But for those with mental health issues or who have endured trauma, the holiday season can be tough and evoke sad memories of the past.

There are several reasons why Christmas can evoke sad feelings and traumatic memories. Alcohol can be used to oppose and suppress the opening of previous wounds. The holiday season can be challenging for recovering alcoholics due to the increased social pressure to drink. Moreover, managing with an eating problem during the Christmas holidays can be especially difficult due to the amount of food and socialising over lunches and dinners.

This blog discusses some of the reasons why Christmas elicits terrible feelings and provides coping solutions.

Why Christmas can be the hardest time of year

Christmas is the only time of year when there is pressure to be cheerful, gregarious, and outgoing. How often have you heard the phrase "Oh come on, it's Christmas"? We are inundated with images of office parties and family gatherings on billboards, social media, and television. The majority of the vibrant, merry photographs depict contented individuals having fun.

For some, however, Christmas is anything but merry. In actuality, it might be a period of increased anxiety. Here are some of the reasons why Christmas can be a difficult time emotionally.

Divorce, break-ups, and difficult family members

The gathering of families during the holiday season might highlight unhealthy connections that are kept at a distance throughout the year. Some family members may assume that over the holiday season, you will set aside your differences.

This is especially true in the situation of divided families. On Christmas Day, parents may resolve to accept one another for the sake of their children. However, this can be traumatic for both children and adults. The environment can be unsettling and uncomfortable. Some abusive partners may attempt reconciliation by using their children as emotional pawns.

Christmas can sometimes bring back traumatic memories of childhood abuse and neglect. Even as adults, we can carry parental strife from our childhood.

Or, Christmas can be difficult for some parents who do not live with their children, especially while everyone else is experiencing the ideal family celebrations.

Coping with a narcissist

Christmas can be the most difficult time of year to deal with a family member who is a narcissist. In the presence of a narcissist, family members frequently dread the holiday season. During the holiday season, narcissistic personalities may have trouble isolating, dominating, and regulating individuals sufficiently to receive proper attention.

They frequently devalue and destroy Christmas and concentrate on abusing their victims. One of the biggest delights of Christmas is giving and watching the happiness of others; yet, narcissists are incapable of this due to their lack of empathy and need to be the focus of attention.

For the partner of a narcissist, gift-giving might cause worry (Will their gift be rejected? Will it cause a scene?) The entire Christmas season can feel like walking on eggshells. Or, if you are divorced from a narcissist, they may utilise the holiday season to express their love and want to reconcile. This is a psychological ploy to re-engage you in order to satisfy their narcissistic needs.

Mental health conditions

Those who are already battling with their mental health may find the holiday season to be an especially trying time of year. Signs of holiday anxiety are strained relationship, the dark and cold winter nights, the reality of spending time with a dysfunctional family, the reality of spending Christmas alone, or any combination of these things acts as a trigger for social anxiety; social anxiety can result from any of these situations.

When there is a continual reminder from the celebrations to 'be happy,' it can be particularly challenging for someone who is suffering from depression during this time of year. This can make a person feel even worse, exacerbating feelings of worthlessness and pessimism and bringing them to the forefront of their consciousness. A person who already struggles with depression may become even more reclusive as Christmas approaches.

At this time of year, many people also suffer from seasonal affective disorder (commonly known as SAD), which is a form of depression unique to this time of year. Signs of holiday depression are reduced exposure to sunlight and shorter daylight hours can have a detrimental effect on vitamin D levels as well as mood.

People who suffer from social anxiety may find that the holiday season is too much for them to handle, which may result in an increase in the number of panic episodes they have. Both hypomania and mania can be triggered by more social stimulation, such as the pressure to mingle.

Isolation and painful emotions

There is a widespread assumption in today's society that Christmas is a joyous time of year. Nevertheless, the holiday season can bring up heightened feelings of isolation and hopelessness in a lot of people. This may be the result of a traumatic experience stemming from difficult Christmases experienced as a child, the death of a loved one and the resurfacing of grief, the absence of family members as a result of the pandemic, challenging family circumstances, or an individual who finds the social aspects of Christmas to be overwhelming. It is possible to experience emotions of isolation over the holiday season if throughout the year you choose to limit or avoid communication with members of your family.

Abuse survivors

The majority of instances of abuse that take place within families are covered up or covered over. Abuse survivors may be able to avoid reconnecting with their estranged family for the majority of the year, but around the holiday season, there is frequently the expectation that they will put the past in the past. In some households, the fact that an incident of abuse ever took place is never brought up or discussed.

A survivor of abuse may experience feelings of guilt. It is possible that they will "not be believed," and that their families will want them to act normally and put on a grin, even when they are, on the inside, going through the most excruciating torment. Memories of abuse cannot quickly erase, and as a result, some survivors suffer from symptoms of Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Anxiety-provoking feelings are sometimes brought on by the holiday season.

Some people find themselves unable to escape an abusive relationship, which, during the holiday season, can become even more volatile as a result of the abuser's tendency to drink excessively.

It is possible that survivors of domestic violence will have feelings of temptation to get back into an abusive relationship during this time of year. This may be due to a dread of being alone over the holiday season. This is especially true for people who have distanced themselves from abusive or dysfunctional families. During the holiday season, there may be a strong desire to return. At this time of year, there may be a significant amount of added pressure.

Tips for looking after your mental health at Christmas

Deep trauma will not simply disappear. It is essential to seek appropriate assistance and treatment. Consider conducting some research over the Christmas holidays in order to feel as though you are making progress. Consider ABHASA's treatment choices to gain a sense of what a healing journey entails.

To get through the holidays, you should strike a balance between social commitments and self-care. Try not to suppress your emotions, and do your best to be kind to yourself. Consider your needs and turn down your inner critic. Establish clear boundaries with others and permit yourself to say no. Prioritize your personal well-being for a change, and inform your loved ones that you may need a break from your typical social activities.

Small maintenance tasks include taking a shower or bath and going for a walk. Meditation and mindfulness can bring about a profound sense of peace.

Treatment programs at ABHASA

At the Abhasa Luxury Rehabilitation Centre and Wellness Retreat, the causes of depression, anxiety, and childhood trauma are identified and treated. To treat every level of the organism, each programme employs a highly effective precision therapy. We pay attention, fix imbalances, and treat the underlying problems. To prevent recurrence and alleviate symptoms, coping strategies are taught.

Prepared by: Mr. Denny Prasad, Psychologist
LinkedIn Id: https://www.linkedin.com/in/denny-prasad-b55028124