Depression/Anxiety

Coping with the Holiday Stress; Loving the Scrooge in You (I)

scrooge

Is there a Scrooge in You?

A couple of years ago, my friends and I went to see “A Christmas Carole.” I had a good time with my friends until the following day. A client mentioned that her husband complained that she was like Scrooge with no holiday spirit.

It got me to think about Scrooge’s story and the reasons that he didn’t have “holiday spirit.” He was a very unhappy person. He was mean and inflexible. On the surface, all he wanted was money. However, in the Christmas past, there was evidence that he was not born a cold blood person. He was a lonely little boy who was forced to learn to harden his heart. Gradually, he learned to bury his life with work. Can you blame him if you understand that, under his inflexible and mean behaviors, there was a lonely and sad little boy?

As a therapist, I am used to my clients being unhappy. I always joked that my clients left me when they became happy. So, it didn’t matter whether it’s a holiday season or not. I am very used to seeing unhappy clients.

However, the holiday season seems to make it harder for a lot of people. The majority of my clients reported feeling stress and depression and can’t wait for the holiday to be over.

Why?

Believe it or not, the holiday itself is a trigger.

Why?

Why do you think Scrooge didn’t like Christmas? He was alone in Christmas as a little boy! When he realized the love of his life has gone because of his behaviors, it was too late, and it was on Christmas.

Can you blame him for not liking Christmas? All the bad things happened to him on Christmas!
I always ask people about their holiday plans. The holiday plan says so much about your emotions around the holiday season. When asked about their holiday plans and “Holiday,” the first answer is who and where do you plan to spend the holiday time with and the answer is always centered around the “family.”

Believe it or not, there are many people who don’t have a plan. I have had a lot of clients who have no family to go to during the holiday time. For many years, as an international student, I had no place to go and “Christmas is just another day.” So, when my clients told me that they started to feel lonely the last Monday of November (Thanksgiving) and their mood started to go downhill to the lowest point on the Christmas Day, I totally get how they are feeling. It’s not easy to be alone during this five weeks of the year when you know you are supposed to be with the family.

On the other side of the spectrum, some people who always have the holiday plan with the families are not necessarily happy because they don’t get along with their families. Many people are unhappy that they have to do the shoppings for the family members whom they don’t like but have to bring the gifts. Some people are unhappy to think about the conversation on the dinner table. More so, the holiday time, the dysfunctional family interaction pattern surfaces and you are forced to smile through the season because “it’s the holiday.”

So, more specifically, holiday triggers the memories of the family, and the family triggers the memories of unpleasant encounters with the family members.

So, no matter which side you are, alone or with family, there is always a reason why the family is a trigger, and it is stressful to get through the holiday seasons from the last Monday of the November until the second day of the New Year.

So, what do you do? There are some steps that you can take to help yourself. Before we jump into those steps, the first step is to tell yourself: “I am not alone. It is OK to feel grumpy, stressed, and depressed during this time of the year.”

It’s time to get to know the Scrooge inside you.

(I talk to much again. To Be continued.)

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