4 things you can do when you don’t feel “merry” or “bright”

I wasn’t in the mood for Christmas.

I simply was not feeling “merry” or “bright” this holiday season.

I spent the morning of Christmas Eve sitting in my car with tears streaming down my face, feeling a sadness and a loss and a heaviness on my heart.

It felt different than I’ve felt before and I was worried about myself.  Was I depressed?

I’d been kind of down for the couple days prior and it seemed to be getting worse.

To be fully transparent, there were a few external factors that could have contributed to my mood:

  1. We didn’t decorate
  2. We didn’t buy presents
  3. We weren’t with family

However, all of those were deliberate and intentional choices.

We closed on our first home just 3 days after Christmas and we had a lot happening this year.


  1. The thought of decorating was unappealing
  2. Our monies were on lock-down due to the closing & any presents we were giving and getting were going to be after we closed and for our new home
  3. Traveling to be with family didn’t feel like the best choice this year & it wasn’t financially intelligent


With the exception of closing on the house, none of that stuff was “new” for us.

  1.  There have been years past where I wasn’t in the mood to decorate
  2. There have been a few times over the years where we’ve been down and out financially & were unable to afford gifts
  3. With family so spread out and jobs in the restaurant industry, there have been many, many years where we’ve not been with family during the holiday


Despite all of the hiccups in the past, we’ve always had our traditions.  We bake cookies and make hot cocoa and drive around looking at neighborhood Christmas lights.

I make cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we talk to family.

We cook dinner, we have drinks, play games & watch Christmas movies all day.

But this year I didn’t want to do any of it.

Not a single thing.

I just wanted to stay in bed, snuggled under the covers with my pups.

I felt super lonely and simultaneously wanted to be left alone.

I felt this emotional sadness until December 26th.

By late afternoon that day I was beginning to feel better.

I could tell because there was a tangible shift in my energy.

So, while I know we’re now past Christmas and into the new year, I want to share what I did over those few days.

Life will deliver you many opportunities to feel overwhelmed and to feel pressured with expectations on how you’re “supposed to” feel.

There will probably be times where you’ll experience sadness, be in “a mood”, feel anxious, or simply find yourself in an unexplainable funk, and if you do, I want you to know there’s hope.

#1 – I let a couple of people see me as I was

I allowed myself to been seen in my sadness by a few people I trusted and I knew would hold the space for me to just be.

I texted a friend and told her what was really going on with me.

I told another friend what I felt sad about and allowed myself to be vulnerable and honest with her when she came by work to wish me a Merry Christmas.

When you’re feeling down, it’s important that you don’t hide.

This part of you isn’t “bad”.

It doesn’t deserve to be shunned and punished.

It needs to be loved on and nurtured.

Give yourself permission to feel how you feel.

Tell yourself it’s okay and if you can, look in the mirror and let the person you see in the reflection know that you care about them.

Take your right arm to your left shoulder and your left arm to your right shoulder and squeeze.

Find a safe space where you can be seen in your perfectly imperfect, messy, snot-nosed glory.

This might be with your Mom or Dad, a friend, a coach, a mentor, or an accountability partner.

You’re simply looking for a place or a moment in time where you can be who you really are and feel what you’re really feeling.

Oftentimes, you don’t need a discussion.

You simply need someone to know what’s really going on with you.

Another soul with whom you can share your authentic truth.

I am learning that part of emotional intelligence is recognizing that certain situations (my job) do call for me to “pull it together” because my emotional meltdown isn’t their problem, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell a friend that I’m experiencing sadness.

#2 – I didn’t pretend to be happy

I didn’t put on a “happy face”.  I didn’t “fake it ’til I made it”.

When you’re in this space, I invite you to try and get neutral instead of trying to be happy.

Maybe you’re currently over in Funk-Town.

Please do not try to get to I’m-Super-Cheery-Ville.

In my opinion, it’s waaaaaay too far to travel.

When people ask how you are, you don’t have to say, “I’m awesome!” You can say, “I’m okay.”

There’s a balance between wallowing and complaining (something I do NOT recommend) and just being present with what is.

Oftentimes when we hide what’s real for us it comes from a place of feeling shame, guilt, or embarrassment.

We tell ourselves that we shouldn’t feel this way, that other people have their own problems, and that they don’t need to be “bothered” by us and our feelings.

Who you are and what you’re feeling is no bother.

Who you are and what you’re feeling is exquisite.

#3 – I expressed

You’ve got to express yourself.

Cry, hit a pillow, throw a kicking and screaming tantrum, go to an arcade and play video games where you can throw or shoot something, journal, go for a run, take a kickboxing class, or do whatever else feels honoring to your body.

Emotions are meant to be felt so they can be released.

No holding back here.

Personally, I cried.

Then I cried again.

Then again.

That’s what felt right to me.

There’s no right or wrong answer here.

You simply want to get the emotions moving.

Trust me, they don’t want to be lodged in your body anymore than you want them there.

#4 – I rested

When all else fails, take a nap.

Sometimes the only thing to do is close your eyes and catch some zzz’s.

It can often act as a pattern interrupt for the funk.

I’ve found that feeling sad is exhausting and sometimes the tired amplifies my sadness which leads to overwhelm and …

{cue vicious cycle}

You’re allowed to take a nap.

You’re allowed to get a full night of sleep.

You’re allowed to take care of you.

This wasn’t my first funk.

It won’t be my last.

What’s important is that we remember, “Feelings are just visitors, let them come and go.”

We don’t have to attach a story about what they mean or what they’re saying about who we are.

We can just sit with them as they move through us.

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