The holidays are a time for cheer. A time when we bask in the joy and love of family and friends. To literally show each other we care with a gift. It is a time for nostalgia. It’s a time see the season through your children’s eyes.
Yet for so many it can be a very stressful time of year. If you or someone you know battles anxiety or depression or any mental illness, this season may cause you to call into question the value you have to the ones you love. If you’ve never battled mental illness maybe you begin feeling the pressures of the holidays.
The list goes on and on of potentially triggering stressors this time of year. If you do battle chronic mental illness you can compound those stressors with immense feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Especially if you’re stuck, exhausted from the mental grind, unable to get through it, or you find yourself going through the motions, numb to the whole thing. It might be extra frustrating because those around you seem to be coasting through the season oblivious to how you're feeling or the difficulties your facing. If it's not you it's someone you know.
Wow depressing, I know. If you weren’t already down this article will put you there. We've all been there at one time or another but we often forget to think of others going through those same challenges. That’s not the point though. The point is you can do something about it. The point is that all the joy in the outside world doesn’t just change the symptoms of mental illness and it doesn’t help the overwhelmed stressed out person who is trying to juggle it all. The good news is that there is something that will. Something that has the power to uplift. It’s not what you think. It’s not advice or dragging your friends butt to the mall. What is it? What is this magical Christmas miracle?
It’s empathy. Clear and simple.
Showing others how valued they are by simply attempting to understand their situation is often the least expensive but most valuable gift of all. It can raise someone’s spirits and it can even save a life. It can raise your own spirits. Turning your attention to others is often just what the doctor ordered to reconnect with your loved ones and find gratitude in your life.
Someone in the above scenario may be extremely irritable this time of year. They piss you off because they are so negative. Perhaps the reason for that negativity is guilt. They feel they aren’t able to do enough to show you or others how much they care. So they distance themselves from the holiday spirit. Maybe they this time of year is compounding their symptoms and putting them in a bad place. You’ll never know unless you ‘re prepared to get into their shoes. Ask them what’s going on? How are they feeling? Why do they feel that way? Don’t ask what you can do. Ask them. Create a safe place where they can talk openly. You might be surprised why they are so angry or stressed. Maybe there are bigger things at play and they need help. Help them ask for it.
When it’s all said and done we’re all just seeking to be understood. Trying to genuinely understand someone else is the ultimate gesture of holiday good will. So make this the best holiday season ever. Full of love and understanding.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
Founder, No Surrender Hockey Challenge