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  • Writer's pictureDr. Speshal Walker Gautier a.k.a. Dr. Spesh

The Holidays Aren't Always Happy

It’s that time of year again. Suddenly everyone and everything can seem focused on the holidays. While some may be filled with celebration and cheer, the reality is the holidays aren’t always so happy. This year has brought about unique challenges with so many suffering emotional, physical, and financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, it may be more challenging to connect and gather in ways you might be traditionally accustomed to. If you find yourself feeling down this holiday season, be kind to yourself, and remember that you are not alone.

For some, the holidays bring about feelings of grief and loss. You might experience intense feelings of grief around the loss of a loved one whose memories feel particularly present during the holiday season. If these feelings come up meet them with kindness and compassion. Recognize that sadness and grief are normal emotional processes and it is important to give yourself space to feel these emotions. Do things that help you to memorialize and feel connected to your loved one. Try to allow your feelings to be what they are rather than turning away from them.

Some may find themselves experiencing sadness, loneliness, and longing for connection. This might be due to COVID social distancing precautions. For others, this longing may be due to complicated familial relationships. The holidays can bring up a sense of grief around the current status of family relationships or the absence of relationships wish that you had. If you are experiencing these feelings, meet them with compassion. Recognize that you are entitled to your feelings and your emotional pain is valid. Connect to your feelings rather than turning away. Reach out to people in your life who help you feel cared for and supported. These might be friends and/or professionals. If your current support system is limited, check out resources for social support via virtual platforms.

There are many reasons the holiday season may feel emotionally challenging. If this is the case for you, let go of guilt about your feelings and expectations about how you should feel. Give yourself permission to feel without judgment. Whatever feelings you're having are valid. This year has been challenging and this season may bring on additional distress. Be compassionate toward yourself and take good care of yourself this season.

If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis call 911 or contact:

National Crisis Hotline 800-273-8255, Available 24/7

For virtual support groups visit:

To find a therapist near you visit:

*Dr. Spesh is a Yale-trained, Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in culturally responsive and evidence-based treatment for anxiety, PTSD, and other stress-related disorders.*

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