Finding New Meaning in the Holiday Season

While many people are excited for the anticipation surrounding the upcoming holidays, others are left to wonder: should the way we think about the holidays be reframed?

Many view the holidays season as a designated time spend with friends and family, to be with one another and celebrate the past year and the year ahead. To finally decompress from it all.

Some might find themselves facing the “winter blues” as they enter a state of seasonal depression.

According to Mental Health America, about 5 percent of the U.S. population experiences Seasonal Affective Disorder, a depression disorder that onsets during the fall and winter months.

Chris Mckittrick, Director of Counseling and Prevention services (CPS), said, “It is common for students to feel stressed from the demands of Finals Week and juggling family obligations, navigating personal relationships, and responding to seasonal changes in weather.”

Mckittrick continued, “While self-care and stress management helps avoid burnout during this critical time of the year, students should consult with a counselor if they notice a pervasive low mood or marked inability to function in critical areas of their life (socially, athletically, academically, etc.)”

Not to mention, this time of year can be filled with stress from holiday shopping and making sure everything is Hallmark-movie perfect. However, there are ways we can change the narrative around the holiday season and stay sane while enjoying each other’s company.

Following Daylight Savings, many routines are interfered with by the sun going down at an earlier hour. In nature, creatures tend to use this time to hibernate and prepare themselves for the season ahead.

After hustling for much of the year prior, the holidays tend to be when we push ourselves to the max. We tend to overwork ourselves with our jobs, wonder how we are to get to and from holiday gatherings and make time for all our loved ones, and are pressured to shop and get gifts with our already-full schedules.

It’s time we look to what the critters around us are doing too: taking a period of rest to cozy up and be with loved ones to prepare themselves for the spring.

Many argue that the holidays have become filled with consumerism in the last few decades. Many have become preoccupied with the idea that the holidays should be filled with material goods: the newest Apple product, a fancy outfit, a large meal.

John Papagni, a junior communication student, said, “When the holidays come around it’s usually when people’s wallets start to cry. Especially when Black Friday and Cyber Monday are advertised to be the time to buy things. Holidays are a great chance to be with loved ones but big companies will take any incentive to make a profit and sometimes those deals are irresistible.”

While millions of people look forward to this season, there are different ways we can fulfill this need to gift-give and show appreciation for one another while being both sustainable and valuable. For most people, their favorite holiday memories come from experiences.

One way to add value to the holiday season and your family traditions might be to gift an experience rather than a material good. For instance, a trip to visit distant family or even to a location that you and your family have been discussing visiting for years.

If you do not want to completely do away with gift-giving physical items, a great way to make it more sustainable is to reuse wrapping paper or scrap paper such as newspapers (maybe even the paper you are reading this on) to wrap your presents. It will save you some money on buying wrapping paper and give your gifts a bit of flare under the tree.

Another way to make your gifts sustainable and affordable is to buy them at the thrift store. You might make a great find that you simply can’t buy brand new. By working around the fuss of the holiday season, cutting down on your budget, and prioritizing time with family over material possessions, you might find new purpose in the holidays.

Even by switching up your normal holiday routine for small things like a new way of wrapping presents can add joy to an already stressful time of year and prevent that seasonal slump.