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How to Rewire your Mind for a Positive Holiday Season when the Holidays are not-so-happy

Nicole Carman 2 Comments
Rewire your mind for a positive holiday season

For many of my clients, “the most wonderful time of the year” is anything but wonderful. All around us we see the bright colors of Christmas trees, menorahs, gift-wrap and decorations. The reds, greens and whites help put is in the holiday mood. However, painful memories of childhood celebrations featuring family conflict, abuse or want; notable absences due to death of a loved one, divorce or other misfortune; or simply the stress of meeting unreasonable expectations of the season can all color the
holidays blue.

When the holidays are difficult, we may find ourselves asking painful questions:

  • Why do we have to go through this every year?
  • Why did he (or she) leave me?
  • How am I going to get through this?
  • Why is everyone else so happy?
  • Will this ever end?
  • Why are we spending so much money?


The challenge with this type of question is that no matter how we answer it, we are left feeling miserable. The question itself focuses our thinking in depressing directions. They are “blue” questions and get us “blue” answers.

One powerful strategy to address holiday blues is to change the questions we are asking ourselves. By being intentional about the questions which we allow ourselves to focus upon, we take control of the direction of our thinking and of our emotional state.

Examples of empowering questions for the Holiday Season include:

  • What do I want the holidays to be about?
  • Who can I connect with this season?
  • What new tradition can be created to move the Holidays in the direction I want them go?
  • If I could accomplish one thing during this season that would make a difference in my life or someone else’s life, what would it be?
  • What could I do that would be fun or would make the activities I am going to do more enjoyable?
  • What can I learn from the situation I am in?


If you aren’t sure if the question you are asking is an empowering question, just test it. How does focusing on that question make you feel? If it doesn’t change the way you feel or if it evokes another distressing feeling, just change it. Keep changing it until you find one that works for you.

Often when I make the suggestion of changing the questions being asked, it is met with initial resistance, so don’t be surprised if something internal growls at the idea at first. If so, just recognize the resistance without trying to change it. Just sit with it. When you come back to it later, you may find that the internal response is different.

Keep in mind questions that work for other people are not nearly as important as finding the questions that will work for you.

This post was written and contributed by David M. Phelan, LPC.

Nicole Carman

My name is Nicole Carman and I’m a mental health advocate and writer who is diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, depression and anxiety. I'm the Founder of the Mental Health Awareness Project. I’m extremely passionate about raising awareness of mental health topics, including general mental health, mental wellness, and mental illnesses.

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  • Fiona Jackson November 15, 2018 at 10:15 AM

    This is helpful suggestion. I linger in unhelpful questions a lot leading up to the holidays. I’ll try asking myself some empowering ones instead!

  • Kim November 22, 2018 at 1:47 PM

    My mind is full of unhelpful questions throughout December. Thanks for your suggestions, I’ll try and turn them into more empowering ones this year.

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    About Me

    About Me

    Nicole Carman

    Welcome to my own little space on the internet! My name is Nicole and this is my personal blog where I write about mental health. I’m extremely passionate about raising awareness of mental health and mental illnesses. I love helping and supporting others, spending time with my husband and cats, and traveling and exploring new places.

    Nicole Carman

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