Updated: Dec 23, 2022
The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a time of busyness, and anticipation, and, for some, can be a very challenging time of year.
The holiday season tends to be a push and pull between a call to slow down and speed up. There are holiday gatherings, end-of-the-year parties, gifts to buy and decorations to be put up. And all the while, we crave the coziness of staying at home and celebrating with people we love. For some, the holiday season can bring a lot of sadness or anxiety as we grieve relationships that have been lost or do not feel safe or we feel the weight of expectation surrounding the time of year. Whether this is a celebratory time of year or one that is a struggle, it can be hard to focus on the peace and hope that Christmas is supposed to bring.
Advent is the religious observance of preparing for the birth of Christ on Christmas Day, but it is also very much a reminder that we constantly live in that tension between hope and wanting. We are waiting for Jesus, but He is not here yet. The days are getting shorter, darker, and colder, and yet we cover our homes in lights. During these days, we prepare and celebrate with the people we love and are also acutely aware of the people that are missing or that we wish were safe to be around.
We think of all that we have accomplished over the year and recognize where we still want to grow or maybe the things that have been lost and not achieved. We may have to spend time with people who are challenging or maybe the holidays just do not match the joy and peace you were hoping for this year. It can be easy to feel hopeless and alone as Christmas approaches, but Advent reminds us to hope, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Here are a few ways to find hope in hopeless situations:
1. Be honest about how you are feeling.
When we feel hopeless during a normally celebratory part of the year, it can be easy to feel guilt or shame that we aren’t having the “normal” emotional experience. The truth is, however you are experiencing the holidays is how you are experiencing the holidays. There is no right or wrong way to be. Shame about your emotional experience only adds greater emotional pain. Whether being honest means being honest with God, journaling and being honest with yourself or sharing with a therapist and trusted friend, letting yourself be where you are without judgment is the first towards moving through any hopelessness you have. Putting words to your experience helps you organize your thoughts and emotions in a way that decreases their hold on you, and it is always helpful to know that you are alone.
2. Look towards past experiences.
The Bible talks about the concept of Ebenezers (not the scrooge kind) as literal stone markers of a time that God has come through for the people of Israel or a specific person. It can often be helpful to think of past situations that have felt hopeless and you have made it through or to reflect on the progress you have made. Marking those Ebenezers in your mind or even writing them down can be a powerful reminder of how God has shown up for you and the growth that you’ve had.
3. Ask others to hope for you.
I was hesitant to put this here because it can often feel invalidating when others try to put a silver lining on a challenging situation or say platitudes like, “It is all going to work out in the end.” However, there is something very different about inviting someone into your struggle and asking them to support you. It is often hard to see the other side of a challenging situation when you are in the throes of it. Asking for someone to give you perspective or even just to listen can increase your ability to find hope. Even if the hope is just knowing that you are not alone.
4. Practice gratitude.
This one sounds maybe a little bit corny, but it is rooted in science. Our brain chemistry literally changes when we make the conscious choice to find the good that is mixed in with the bad. Our natural wiring skews towards paying attention to the negative because that is what our brains think will keep us safe. Now, this works well if you are actually in a life-or-death situation, but it does not work so well when you are in a room full of people and wondering if they all hate you. All that to say, choosing to find gratitude in moments when we feel hopeless is going against our instincts, which makes it an even more impactful choice. Gratitude helps us find reasons to hope and keep going even when everything feels dark. It’s a reminder that things are rarely truly all bad or all good, and that there can be light in the darkness.
Begin Working With A Therapist in Smyrna, GA
If you find yourself living in that tension of feeling hopeless in a season that is supposed to be full of hope, remember you are not alone. God is with you, Jesus’ birth is coming, and we at Remain connected are happy and eager to support you. Our team of caring therapists would be happy to offer support from our Smyrna, GA-based practice. You can start your therapy journey by following these simple steps:
Reach out to talk to an Atlanta therapist.
Have your first appointment at Remain Connected
Start making the most of the holiday season!
Other Services Offered with Remain Connected Therapy
Our team understands there are many stressors to cope with this holiday season. This is why we are happy to offer a variety of services including teen therapy, trauma therapy, PTSD treatment, anxiety treatment, and EMDR therapy. We also offer Pastoral counseling, life transitions therapy, depression counseling, and more all under a Christian counseling lens. With online therapy, these services are available to anyone in Georgia. Learn more about our team of dedicated therapists and contact us for more information.