My daughters were born on Halloween and New Year’s Day. That means that nearly all of our family “holidays” are crammed into about a 45 day window. I’d like to think that, somehow, my holidays are more stressful than yours. But that’s not really true. The Holidays (with a capital T and a capital H) are universally stressful. They’re the perfect storm of things designed to feed anxiety, depression, and addiction.
The Holidays are loaded with family expectations, energy drains, financial strains, and the also the highest hopes. We desperately want these few months to be the highlight of the year. After all, why shouldn’t The Holidays dedicated to gratitude and generosity bring us the greatest joy?
But it’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of the season and to forget to pursue the truest meaning of these celebrations. Ideally, these few months are meant to bring out the best in us. To remind us that life is a gift and that still “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Still, The Holidays are often difficult for people. It can be a reminder of an existential loneliness, and a subtle (or profound) depression. You know what gets missed during this season? December 21st is the shortest day of the year. That means it’s also the longest night. This “longest night” is a symbol of the darkness and malaise that plagues many during this season of joy.
For those of you who may be struggling with The Holidays, at least in the way that they represent your anxieties and addictions, know that you’re not alone. While the season invites you to explore your highest hopes, it can also be a time to examine your greatest fears. This might be the perfect time for you to actively consider how to deal with your holiday stress.
I know for sure, this is the toughest time of year for me and my family. Maybe it’s tough for you too. Consider taking some time to face your depression or anxieties with a Sage Hill counselor or spiritual director, we’re here to help.
Zach Brittle, LMHC, is a counselor, author, and blogger in Seattle, WA where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He is a Certified Gottman Therapist and best-selling author of The Relationship Alphabet. Follow him on Facebook at Zach Brittle, LMHC or on Twitter @kzbrittle.