Let's be honest--the pressure to have a perfect happy life at the holidays (or even just seem like you do!) can make this time depressing, anxiety-ridden and downright painful for some of us.

If you already have everything on your holiday list, hooray for you! But even then, the holidays can stir up feelings of emptiness and desire for deeper meaning in your life.  And for those perfectionistic high achievers out there, maybe you had thought that achieving external success in your career, in relationships and financially, would make you finally deep down feel worthwhile.  But it hasn't worked all that well, which can make you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression at this time of year!

And along with the holidays often comes more time with family which can sometimes also be the source of added pressure to be happy and make the holidays live up to the holiday card picture.

When we gather with family, when everyone has big expectations, often we can revert back into the roles and behaviors we had in our family as children--troublemaker, good little girl, golden child, peacemaker, rebel, etc.  We have a way of triggering and provoking each other if old wounds have not been worked out.  This can then lead to more feelings of anxiety, abandonment and alienation.

If you are experiencing any of the above, know that you are not alone.


Try to take the pressure off of yourself to seem perfect.  Focus on getting involved in conversation or some activity with those you enjoy.

Be compassionate with yourself if you are feeling depressed or anxious--you are not alone; it is natural to have a mix of emotions at this time of year! Accept whatever you are feeling in the moment and know that most likely it will pass!  If it continues and you begin to feel worse, have changes in  sleep patterns, changes in appetite or feel in crisis, then contact a psychologist or your medical doctor for help.

This is time for major self care:
Try to exercise, get sleep and eat healthfully as much as possible.

Don't let others' words define you--they may also be feeling stressed, insecure, fearful of judgement, or down.  Having a healthy personal boundary means you are open to others and, at the same time, aware of what feels true about who you are --you are not responsible for others' happiness or meeting their needs at the expense of your own wellbeing.  You can always excuse yourself  from any social interaction that feels critical or mean spirited.

It can be a good time to get into therapy to sort out your feelings and gain a deeper understanding of your core beliefs about yourself and others that are holding you back from experiencing greater self-esteem and deeper connection with others.  This may be the best holiday gift you can give yourself!


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