What to do When Jingle Bells Sound Like Jingle Blues

By on November 25, 2012

By Rita Schulte –

Tension. Fighting. Conflict. Tears. Has that ever described your holiday season? Do you get a knot in your stomach just thinking about holiday dinner because you know you’ll be able to cut the tension in the room with a knife? Someone will do or say something that will upset someone else and then the bottom will drop out.

The holiday season can trigger feelings of anxiety, loneliness and depression, especially if family relationships aren’t what we had hoped for or expected. For most of the year, we can chose to avoid thinking about the disappointments family and the holidays engender, but from Thanksgiving to Christmas we have to deal.

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If any of this describes your holiday season, you’re not alone. The holidays are supposed to be a time of connecting, sharing and having fun. But when the jingle bells seem to have lost their luster what can we do?

Here are some things to consider to help make it through the holidays without losing your joy:

Notice your triggers

If the holidays are difficult for you, plan ahead for obstacles. Know what things trigger you and try and avoid them.

Set boundaries

Don’t take other people’s behavior as a reflection of your self worth. Don’t forfeit your peace because of someone else’s stuff. You can’t control other people’s behavior but you can control your responses to them.

Watch what you tell yourself

What we tell ourselves impacts our mood. Pay attention to your negative self-talk, it only keeps you stuck. Reframe negative internal monologues with positive counterstatements.

Manage your stress

The holidays can be extra stressful, and added stress puts us on emotional overload. Manage stress by being intentional and deliberate about practicing relaxation. Try deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and exercise. Find new ways to decompress each day.

Don’t allow past hurts and offenses to weigh you down

The holidays can be a time when old hurts and offenses resurface and weigh us down. If relationships are difficult, new hurts can also occur. Forgiveness is key to keeping accounts at zero.

Grieve when you’re sad

Don’t stuff or avoid your feelings. Get them out. Journal. Pray. Talk to God.

Focus on the reason for the season

It’s really easy to lose our focus around the holidays. Keep the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas alive in your heart by practicing gratitude. Find at least two things each day to be grateful for and write them down. Then spend some time contemplating and meditating on how good your life really is.

Enjoying the holidays doesn’t have to be hard work if we keep our focus right. But if your holiday blues don’t go away, you may be dealing with a more serious issue.

If you are experiencing blue sad mood, chronic fatigue, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, an inability to concentrate or feelings of worthlessness for over a two-week period, professional help may be necessary. Don’t wait till the jingle bells become the jingle blues.

Your turn: Have you ever experienced the holiday blues? If so, what did you do to help make those jingle ells rock again?


Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in No. Virginia. She hosts a weekly podcast show called Heartline where she talks to the leading counselors and authors in the country about cutting edge topics affecting the lives of people today. Heartline is now airing on 90.5 FM in NC, and Rita’s 1 minute devotional spot, Consider This is airing on 90.5 FM and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, Va. Heartline will be coming to Christian Life Internet Radio in February 2012. Follow Rita at http://www.siftedaswheat.com/ for counseling helps and to read the first chapter of her book.

About Rita Schulte

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Radio and a 1-minute feature “Consider This.” Her shows air on Alive In Christ Radio (AliveinChrist.com) Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, Kyria and LifeHack.org. She is the author of Shattered: Finding Hope and Healing through the Losses of Life, (Leafwood) and Imposter: Gain Confidence, Eradicate Shame and become who God made you to be (Siloam), follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on FB http://www.facebook.com/RitaASchulte and twitter @heartlinepod.

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What to do When Jingle Bells Sound Like Jingle Blues