The holiday season is usually filled with a lot of celebrations. There are a ton of holiday parties, family gatherings, presents, festive lights and decorations among other things. When we log onto facebook, twitter, instagram or google plus, we see pictures of our friends and family smiling, opening gifts, checking in to various restaurants and bars, etc. The end of the year is also a time when a lot of people reflect back on either their life in general or what has transpired over the past year. Our minds tend to be filled with memories, past goals, and dreams of the future.
However joyful the end of the year is supposed to be, it is also the time of year where the most suicides occur. That isn’t a coincidence because this part of the year is when many people’s misfortunes and errors in judgment are brought to the surface. Add to that, the pressure of needing to be fake around our loved ones because we think that is what we are supposed to do, purchase holiday gifts that we may not be able to afford, and attend family gatherings or social situations with friends when we aren’t feeling very chipper is a lot of anxiety for people. It can cause many to want to hide out until the rest of the world gets back to its normal state of indifference, as opposed to feeling like you are the only one not in a manic phase.
There are many times in our lives when we aren’t sure if we should push someone to do something we feel (and know in some cases) would be beneficial, or let him/her do what he/she feel is best for their physical and emotional health. It is difficult to judge what the right thing is because we all cope differently. So while we know that pushing someone to attend a holiday party with the family even when they aren’t up to it may be good for them and they’ll be glad once they are there…. how do you know when a person should be pushed or left to deal with things the way they see fit?
I don’t have a “one size fits all” answer to that question because I believe every person and every situation needs to be examined differently. I just think it is important for everyone to realize that while withdrawing may not be your way, we need to be respectful of our family and friends coping skills. There are many people who hide from the world when they are feeling down and there are others who would need to talk to everyone when they are upset because they find it benefits their mental health to be around family/friends.
At the end of the day, as hard as it is, it doesn’t matter what you feel is best for someone. You can nudge, you can offer your support, you can show someone you are there for them no matter what, you can provide reasons why you feel what you’re suggesting is the right thing to do…. But people do what they can handle. Our psyche’s are different and the more you get to know someone and really understand what they need and what makes them tick, the easier it will be to know whether a particular situation is one where your loved one needs to be pushed or left to do what they feel would make them happiest.
And remember, social media is a terrible way of gaining insight into how others are feeling and doing this holiday season. I see pictures and status updates from people I am close with and I think about what they are really going through now; not just what they post on a social media account. Many online profiles are nicely orchestrated so that the public only sees what someone chooses to share. Most people don’t post about everything so please, please keep in mind that pictures lie. If you are someone who is feeling down this time of year, and think you are in the minority, you are very much mistaken and it might benefit you to share your true feelings with people you are close with. I think you’ll be surprised at the response.
My advice to you is to stay away from social media for a little while. Dive into a good book. Start watching a television series that makes you laugh or that you find incredibly engaging. It will take your mind off of what other people are sharing and posting about just enough for you to get through this often stressful time. Don’t be afraid to say to your parents, your significant other, your children, or your friends that you aren’t feeling up to doing certain activities. Let them respond the way they want to but you know yourself best. And what it good for you is often good for the people in your life too.