The holiday season isn’t cheerful for everyone

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The holiday season is a time where you can bask in the warm feeling of friendship and love while sipping warm hot chocolate by the fire. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?

What’s not to love about gift-giving and big holiday dinners?

For some students, quite a bit.

A third-year student at UNB said “[Seasonal depression] is not something people talk about. For me, not only do I feel like I have to constantly spend money that I don’t have on people that I don’t like, but I also feel like I am forced to go to Christmas dinners with family that I intentionally cut out of my life a long time ago. It’s just really hard to enjoy it when it’s so stressful and so expensive.”

Holidays can be difficult for those who have negative experiences surrounding family or the time of year, but it can also be difficult for those who don’t have family there to celebrate with. Quite a few students said that family dinners around the holidays are difficult because they bring up memories of those they have lost.

Emily Legere, a first-year student, thought holidays were great for families who live in separate areas. “I completely get why a lot of people get stressed around the holidays, with shopping and travelling and all the expectations and expenses. I actually get excited for them because I get to see a lot of family members who I only see around this time of the year, and for a lot of people I think that’s what it’s all about.”

Although the holidays can be hard, there are several ways we can change that. One of the biggest things we can do is understand that although your family is, well, your family, it’s okay to not see them if you don’t want to.

Communication is key

It can be difficult to communicate this to your relatives, feeling like you are expected to do things you do not want to do, but it is okay to say no. Take the time you would have spent doing something you don’t enjoy and spend it doing things you do enjoy. Hangout with your cat, take a nap or have a day of self-care. The holidays are about giving, so give yourself a break.

You can always talk to loved ones about the whole gift situation. Suggest doing something else that will allow you to get together but won’t make you feel stressed out because you’re spending money that you think you should be saving.

For the extroverts out there, the best gift you can give your introvert friends is alone time. Don’t make them feel worse if they don’t want to come to your party.

The holidays aren’t perfect, but they can be better.

The pressure surrounding holidays being a “perfect” thing where everyone is happy is a misconstrued idea that we need to get rid of it. Yes, the holidays can suck but if we surround ourselves with people we love, respect others’ decisions to stay in, and work on getting rid of the negative aspects of it all, maybe we can make it suck less.

Taylor is in her fifth year of her Bachelor of Arts/Education and is double majoring in English and Psychology. She has an affinity for all things Shakespeare, loves old books and has recently discovered a love for gardening! When not at school or work, you can find her perusing thrift stores, collecting beach glass, or watching birds. She is a proud Taylor Swift fan (we only listen to Taylor's Version here) and also believes pasta should be a food group and that gummy bears qualify as a healthy breakfast.