Not everyone loves the Christmas season.

If you are one of those people, see my suggestions below for making it more bearable:


If you hate the “commercialism” and focus on spending money for gifts: start a new tradition where you only exchange things you already have or can give without buying (re-gift items, make items, or offer services like “will paint your room any color you like” or “3 evenings of free babysitting” or “this coupon good for one entire Saturday spent with you having fun at the park“).

If you are short on cash: see above

If you are not religious and the religious aspect of the season bothers you: disconnect from the present world a little – go for walks where there are no loudspeakers.  Hunker down at home and read a few good books or catch up on PVR’d shows.  Tackle some tasks on your to-do list that have gone undone.  If you still want to join in the ‘giving’ aspect of the season, call around to homeless shelters (youth or adult) and other non-profits and ask if they need extra help during the season.

If your family stresses you out, makes you sad or uncomfortable or scared when you all get together: set firm boundaries for yourself.  Do you absolutely have to spend that time with them, or can you visit with other people in your life who make you feel safe and happy instead?  If you have to visit with them, schedule it for short periods (like one major meal only, or Christmas morning only, or only one day) and say that you will be busy the rest of the time.  If you live with them, find ways to stay physically and emotionally safe.  Plan ahead.  Remember, you have the right to feel safe and be safe.  If you upset a few people by staying away from situations that make you super anxious or fearful, then they can just suck it up.  Look after yourself (and your kids, if you have them).

If Christmas is associated with bad memories for you: alleviate some of your pain by focusing on helping others who are in need.  Decide how you want to spend the season – and if you worry that you will just sit and dwell on sad memories all day long, figure out ways to get up and out of the house and focusing on others: help with meals at a soup kitchen.  Wrap toys for kids who have little.  Sing carols at a hospital.  Shovel someone’s sidewalk.  Visit someone who is isolated or lonely.  Distract yourself with kindness.

If you just get overwhelmed by the noises and colors and lights and busy spaces and people and everything: Go on a mini vacation.  If you can’t get away, schedule mini breaks for yourself in the day where you can escape for a bit.  Hide in your room, go for a walk, go for a drive….find quiet places, take a few deep breaths and re-balance yourself.  Then get back into the fray….counting down the days until it’s all over.

And if Christmas is a happy and hopeful time for you – enjoy!

Make sure that you appreciate every moment this year….because next Christmas will look different.  People will be older, some people might be new, some people might be gone.  Stay warm and safe and fed and grateful!