Family, Friends, the Holidays—and Me.


Many of us know the popular holiday phrase sung by Andy Williams: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” For many people, the holidays are a sacred, special time to spend with family and friends who are dear to us. It marks an occasion to reconnect with those we rarely see, even when it’s not due to a pandemic. We open ourselves up to the possibilities of good things to come in the new year. It can be a time to rest and reflect on the past 11 months—this most wonderful time of the year.

Is it though? The most wonderful time of the year?

Hear me out—I certainly am no Scrooge, nor do I wish to dampen anyone’s holiday cheer. And yet, the truth is, the holidays are not always joyful. Santa doesn’t always come. Families don’t always connect. Friends aren’t always around, and loneliness can easily creep in. We struggle to connect with ourselves and muster up enough hope that things will get better someday. Hopefully one day our families or friends or partners will stop pressuring us to be different, look different, act different, feel different. One day we will stop opening ourselves up to be the receptacle for other people’s pain. That one day we will set better boundaries with others—and with ourselves.


What can we do TODAY?

Below are 4 tips to help you navigate this complicated time of year:


Pause & Reflect.

How often do you pause and take inventory of how YOU are feeling? To check in and see if you are honoring YOUR feelings, rather than care-taking for the emotions others have dumped into your lap? Take time to identify how you are feeling in the present moment.


Acknowledge & Honor.

Once you’ve identified how you are feeling (and remember, it’s normal to feel more than one feeling at a time), honor your emotions. This means acknowledging—without judgement—that your feelings are valid. Feelings are for feeling. It’s vital we recognize emotions without trying to push them away in fear or criticizing ourselves.


Boundaries & Breaks.

If you recognize that others are negatively impacting you—whether they are family members, friends, significant others, or your children, set a boundary and take a break. You are worthy of respect, kindness, and compassion, thus, it is appropriate to step away from people and situations where your mental health feels compromised. Set a boundary when you are being too hard on yourself. Give your mind, body, and soul a mental break from the internal thought loop and refresh yourself with a different activity that brings you joy.


Self-Care & Compassion.

When we care for ourselves and nourish the different parts of who we are, we connect the mind, body, and spirit on a deeper level. Taking time to be kind to ourselves is necessary for the human spirit to survive, especially in dark and stressful times. Remember—you are worthy of care and compassion. It starts with you!


Be gentle with yourself. Being a human during the holidays is hard, but it doesn’t have to be hopeless.


If you or a loved one is in need of support, Low Country Counseling offers specialized therapy for Individuals, Moms, Couples, Families, Children, and Teens. Contact us for any questions you need answered or to schedule an appointment. Help is available. You are not alone!


Hope Starts HERE.

Written by: Kristen Dickens, PhD, LPC, ACS, NCC

Kristen works in both private practice and teaching graduate-level students at Georgia Southern University. She specializes in Marriage & Family Counseling as well as the treatment of Eating Disorders. Her passion is helping families find connection and supporting anyone open to change. Her practice serves teens and adults in Savannah, GA.