Lately, I see on social media and online this abundance of photos with people and families with a perfect smile in this fabulous Christmas setup. It gives you a warm fuzzy feeling related to the end of the year. Right? Well, it is not necessarily so.
We post these perfect pictures of us, our families, pets, but I wonder how many of us feel sad, misunderstood, or exhausted behind this social (media) image?
It’s a Merry Merry Christmas! Or… is it really?
It is a proven fact that even though depression can occur at any time of the year, November and December have the highest rates of stress and anxiety.
The truth is that no matter how much I like the photos, the colors, the tree, the sparkling lights, or the beautiful clothes in red and green, this end of the year is not so shiny and glamorous. I’m still recovering from my surgery and paralysis, trying to find my way as an entrepreneur, and social distancing. Some days are good, and some are painful and awful. I believe that many people out there are having a hard time, especially during the 2020 holiday season.
So this post reflects my wish to bring the less comfortable or advertised face of 2020 Christmas into the spotlight. I believe there are many people out there who are suffering or just feeling lonely. Maybe they’ve lost someone they loved because of illness, or perhaps just they’ve gone through a painful experience.
If losing someone isn’t hard enough as it is, losing him or her close to Christmas or the magical holiday season makes it worse. And this flood of happy perfect pictures in the online environment is not helping. Not only that, but the feelings of loss can repeat each year during the Christmas holidays as it becomes somehow attached to this time of year.
Social isolation can be one factor that favors feelings of sadness and even the debut of depression. And, let’s face it, 2020 was the absolute definition of social isolation for most of us.
The unexpected perspective that 2020 brought into my life: we are never truly alone
If there is one thing that I’ve learned during this year, it’s that you are never truly alone, even if it can seem so at first glance. In April, when the pandemic started, I also experienced the spine crisis, which led me urgently into the hospital and surgery. I felt as lonely as never before. Everyone was frightened, staying indoors, and I also didn’t want to expose my loved ones to the risk of catching the disease. I was in serious trouble because suddenly, I found myself not being able to walk my dog or look after myself from one day to another.
So I called a pet sitter whose number I found on the internet. They had an ad on their Facebook page, offering free pet walking services to people who had to isolate in their homes. Turns out that the woman who rang at my door on a late spring evening, willing to help me with my old dog for a few days, proved to be my salvation from a situation with no way out. Not only did she walk my dog, fed him, prepared, and gave him his medication, but she came to my house 2 times a day for almost 3 months! She helped me buy groceries or medicine, taking care of my place while I was in the hospital. She even helped me change my bandage after coming back home.
There are really not enough words that can express the amount of gratitude that I feel for her.
This random event, that phone call that I gave asking for help, created a series of effects. These unfolded in such a way that it restored my faith in people. I still believe in the good, kind-hearted strangers that will offer you a helping hand without expecting anything in return at a time when you need it the most.
Ways to go through the stress or blues of the holidays
So, if you are going through a difficult time, feeling blue, lonely, or having difficulty coping with loss, just know that you are not alone. Here are a few ways that helped me cope with similar feelings during this time of the year:
Don’t give in to pressure. Learn to say “No.”
If you are uncomfortable with an event of any kind, open up. Feel free to say that you are not up to it at that particular moment.
A few years ago, it happened to me while I was going through a painful separation from my ex-husband. Christmas was nearly there, and nobody had a clue that we had difficult times to such an extent. I felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown, trying to keep it all together. I could not have such a difficult conversation with the rest of the relatives or participate in family events and pretend everything was fine.
So I chose not to give in to any external pressure and took the time I needed to process and grieve my loss.
Helping others will keep you busy and will also help you feel good, being next to people who need your support and to whom your presence and actions make a difference.
Go out in nature
This seems to be the perfect remedy for almost any kind of suffering or even illness. If you feel the holidays’ blues, nothing can be more stimulating and refreshing than a hike in nature.
Talk to your friends and ask for help if you feel you can’t cope.
It’s always a good idea to talk about the difficult moments we are going through. Try calling a friend and tell them what’s on your mind. Or you can also have a few online therapy sessions that will help you get back on track smoothly. Suffering is part of our human condition, but that doesn’t mean we have to go through it alone.
It has been a challenging year for all, 2020. To be honest, I am glad it’s coming close to its end. However, I had my own share of valuable life lessons and personal evolution this year. I am grateful and consider myself very lucky that I didn’t lose any of my loved ones due to COVID-19.
I hope that 2021 will be better and that life will be kinder.
And, if you feel the holiday blues, come by and say “hi” in the “Wild Tribe” community. You can find us on the “Calling for the wild” Instagram account. We’ll be happy to chat and to share incredible travel and adventure memories with you.