The holidays can arrive in a bluster of activity, colors, excitement, and food. For some, it is a fun-filled time of year from the middle of October until January second. However, as with all things that contain so much chaos and pandemonium, the holiday cheer and good times can also induce anxiety, depression, sadness, and suicide. When those negative feelings overwhelm you, it is known as the holiday blues.
Children develop intense feelings they associate with the holidays as the little one lives through the experience. If the holidays contain fun, excitement, celebrations, and laughter, the resulting emotions in your experience as an adult will be a reflection of what your childhood self felt. You will look for the treats, presents, and joy that came with the holiday excitement of your youth. On the other hand, if your holidays as a child were fraught with disappointment, shouting matches, and unhappiness, that is what your adult self will expect – and often receive. Despite your childhood hopes and dreams, the overwhelming emotional discomfort your young self experienced will dominate your adult world.
Although your experiences and emotions may come from events that played out on a stage during your childhood, the unconscious memories and your learned responses can impact the way you think and feel today. Although you may not be aware of the tension you feel during the holiday season, your unconscious self understands the trauma you once felt, and those memories are still strong reminders to your inner-child of that pain, and thus, it can cause your inner self a great deal of discomfort. In turn, your unconscious mind may cause you to be uncomfortable when others give you gifts or lavish you with compliments.
As a child, you may have been excited and tried to open gifts before it was time. If you continued the behavior and were repeatedly punished for your interaction with the presents, you may become anxious, tense, and even irritable when gifts are mentioned today, all because you were constantly reprimanded for your excitement about the presents in the past. If you touched the ornaments on the tree and received a scolding, you may have problems with trimming a tree even to this day. These examples may make it easier to understand why you may be more emotionally sensitive than other people are to the anxiety and agitation some people experience during the holidays.
The first thing you can do for yourself during the celebrations is to think back at your childhood holiday memories and see them for what they are. Ask yourself about the associations you are making about each of the different holidays, the decorations, the presents, and the related holiday activities. If you find yourself growing uncomfortable as you think about something in your adult life associated with a holiday or tradition, look back into your memory to a time in childhood that made you uncomfortable, caused you pain, or deeply wounded you. Once you understand how you came to associate current thoughts and feelings with past emotions, you can create new responses and take control of how you will react to everything about the holidays.
You don’t have to let the holiday blues cause you anxiety, discomfort, or unhappiness. Instead, take control of how you think with the help of a therapist that can assist you in creating new associations to the holidays you have dreaded for far too long.