1. Recognize unique serotonin.
Serotonin is the chemical in your brain that stimulates happiness. As someone who’s been diagnosed with Obsessive-compulsive Disorder, I’ve discovered that my mental disorder prohibits my brain from maximizing serotonin. In fact, OCD destroys serotonin, so I understand how happiness, even joy, can feel forced amidst the holidays. It’s an awkward beginning, mandating a false sense of glee, but your brain will take note of the constant effort and follow suit.
For me, Bath & Body Works’ Leaves-scented candle is instant serotonin for me. It reminds me of fall memories back home in Georgia, so on hard days, when my husband is gone for work and I’m quietly trying to “get in the holiday spirit,” I light my Leaves candle. It's simple, and you’d think something so small wouldn’t work, but instantly, I feel better. I feel prepped to enjoy the season.
When you’re facing a lonely, hard season, you don’t always want to bust through the doors of your neighbor’s costume party. And you definitely don’t want to don a tacky Christmas sweater—and that’s okay. But maybe it’s time to call a trusted friend, or be that trusted friend, and grab a pumpkin spiced latte and take a quiet, thoughtful walk outdoors. Maybe it’s “Monster Mash” music or the dog-barking version of “Jingle Bells” that perks you up, or maybe you enjoy taking a drive through the local neighborhood decorations.
Take time to recognize your unique serotonin boosts and don’t underestimate the simplicity, but strong sense of joy it can bring.
2. Acknowledge the hurt.
It’s okay to admit that it’s not “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for you. In fact, it’s not only okay, but it’s necessary. Grief is part of the healing cycle. It’s a way to honor what was lost and rediscover what’s next.
Josh’s job as a pilot has kept us apart for days, weeks, and even months. We’ve lived in separate states twice in our short 3.5 years of marriage. I know what it’s like to hang up ornaments alone, to close my doors on Halloween, afraid of passing out candy by myself. But, the second I stepped foot in a Christian therapist’s office, I gained a new understanding of my hurt, and it led me to enjoy seasons that I was sure would crush my spirit.
Loneliness, mixed with OCD, is tough, but because I acknowledged this dark part of my reality, because I sought therapy, started taking Zoloft, I was able to step back and see hurt as a way to grow, as a way to see the warmth and cheeriness of this season through the eyes of caring friends and family, of thoughtful neighbors who fill the cracks and crannies solitude carved.
I’m not saying you have to go to therapy, or even consider medication, but take that first big step in acknowledging the reality of your hurt. It’ll create a fresh perspective, a launching pad for healing that opens new doors for being thankful this festive season.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/tommaso79