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Monday, December 10, 2012

Why Are Holidays So Hard?

Around this time of year, we all seem to get a little more stressed out than usual. I heard the best explanation of why this might be this past week at a training, and I wanted to share it with my readers.

1) We don't live as close to the earth. 

Image by marin @
We didn't have electricity, so people basically followed the sun's pattern. Early to bed, early to rise. There was no Daylight Savings Time. People hibernated in the winter out of necessity. The climate, the environment tells us to "stay inside!" It's darker sooner, colder, wetter...all good reasons to stay inside.

Now, we have the hustle and bustle of the holidays that goes against this ingrained animal instinct to withdraw, snuggle up by the fire, and sleep. We have parties to attend, gifts to buy, dinners to cook, presents to wrap, places to go, people to see. It's counterintuitive to many, which explains why people can get so dysregulated during the holidays, even those who don't get into the Christmas spirit.

2) The entire holiday season has a "be of good cheer" motto. 

 Just look at the titles of well-known Christmas songs: Happy Holidays; We Wish You a Merry Christmas; Holly, Jolly Christmas; The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

Many people simply are not happy during the holidays, for a variety of reasons, all of which are normal. Maybe they live far away from relatives, or they lost someone during the holidays that makes enduring them very difficult. So when the entire world is telling you to be happy, merry, and jolly, this can bring your fairly normal, seasonal-affective-type depression into stark contrast with the lights and festivities and music.

I'm sure there are other reasons, some more individualistic than these, but this was eye-opening for me, and I hope it is to you as well. Come back Wednesday, as I'll have some steps to minimize holiday stress that I want to share.

Let's Analyze

Do you have any other ideas on why the holidays can be such a hardship for some?