There’s a lot of pressure this time of year to be joyful and festive. With lights strung on houses and trees, glistening in the snowy nights, upbeat Christmas music playing in all the stores and warm wishes being sent in holiday greeting cards, it’s easy to get wrapped up in it. People are generally nice and pleasant to be around.
But for some, the holiday season isn’t as jolly. Seasonal depression has settled in, you’re rarely outside when the sun is out and there’s a lot of pressure to be happy despite all of it.
This holiday season, I encourage everyone to be extra kind to those around them. Just because someone doesn’t like Christmas or doesn’t want to take part in the season’s festivities doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a grinch. You never know what someone’s story is — they could be using all their energy just to keep it together — so please, be kind.
A rough childhood, an eating disorder, mental illness, an abusive relationship, financial stress, the anniversary of a loved one’s death, family drama, addiction or just general burnout are just some of the reasons someone might not enjoy the season. Maybe they don’t have a reason and they just don’t like the season — that’s OK, too.
So please, be careful of your word choices and don’t be so quick to judge. If you notice someone isn’t as upbeat as usual, reach out. Ask how they are doing and if they need anything. Be cautious not to project your feelings onto them.
If you are someone who has a hard time during the holidays, here’s your reminder that it’s OK not to be OK. Don’t feel pressured to participate in something if it’s going to make you feel worse in the end.
There are resources available if the holidays get to be too much. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. You can also text HOME to 74174 to text with a trained crisis counselor. Locally, telephone and mobile crisis services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling Crisis Services at 814-362-4623 or 800-459-6568. If warranted, a mobile crisis worker can be sent to assist with the crisis situation.