Holiday Season Stress

green christmas tree with orange bauble
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The holiday season tends to stir up many emotions, and various research shows how Christmas time can negatively impact mental health.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the holiday season has been portrayed to be a time that families should spend together and make memories with one another. Cliché holiday movies always show big families or groups of friends getting together to celebrate the season and exchange gifts.

In the popular movie Home Alone, the main character Kevin is left alone during Christmas; his family accidentally leaves him behind to go for a vacation together. However, the writers portray those who are truly alone and without family during Christmas as beat-up looking criminals (Harry and Marv). Although Kevin is technically alone during the Christmas break, he is shown to have a huge family who is desperate to get home to him.

Despite this movie just being a comical display of what happens when Kevin is left alone in a big house; one may analyze deeper to wonder if the writers had any meaning in how they portray those who are alone during Christmas time (Harry and Marv). In the second movie, they again show another woman who is alone during Christmas time (pigeon lady) as someone who is dirty, estranged, living in an attic and only talks to birds.

Enough of rambling on about Christmas movies… But on a real note, there are a lot of people who do spend the holidays alone that aren’t criminals or pigeon ladies.

green and white wreaths
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Numerous studies examine how there is an increase in dysphoric moods (broad feelings of depression & discontent) during the holidays. Many people don’t have big families or groups of friends to celebrate the holidays with. Additionally, many don’t have the savings or steady income to afford the holiday expenses.

Christmas tends to be a very expensive time of year. Based on a survey distributed by the Retail Council of Canada, on average, Canadians will spend close to $800 on Christmas this year. However, I am certain that there are households that will spend much more! Spendings on gifts, decorations and on holiday party festivities can add up very quickly; and don’t even get me started on the stress that comes along with planning a holiday gathering!

Some of us may be dreading being alone this season or dreading seeing their in-laws. Either way, Christmas has become much less exciting versus when we were kids.

With the holiday season beginning, I urge you to be conscientious about checking in with your friends and family. Some may be struggling silently with the overwhelming feelings that this time of year brings. Try to practice mindfulness during this season and find peace within whatever it is you do.

Wishing all a very safe and happy holidays!

Is Ignorance Truly Bliss?

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Sometimes ignorance can be bliss, but sometimes it isn’t. In certain scenarios it can be very beneficial to be aware of an important piece of information. However, in others, you may benefit from the blissfulness of not knowing and enjoying the moment.

So then why do we equate ignorance to being blissful? Think about your childhood for a moment. Childhood holds a sort of blissfulness to it. Children are unaware of the burdens and responsibilities that adults hold. Parents hide the obstacles that come along, and therefore, children can go on with their daily life peacefully. Time is a difficult and strange construct for children; as quickly as obstacles come, they go, and they are back to enjoying their blissfulness.

Although these blissful moments are there during our early lives; the truth is, not all children are fortunate enough to always have that experience. Some children grow up in homes where parents are unable to hide their challenges from their children. This can create a sense of anxiety and fear. The bliss quickly turns in to terror as the child is constantly stressed out for the responsibilities that their parents hold. The more knowledge, awareness and understanding children hold about the world around them, the less bliss there seems to be.

Does obtaining awareness and knowledge about life too early take away from the childhood bliss? I would argue yes, that it does. However, I do believe that knowledge is power, and that the child that has some knowledge of stressful situations can grow up making better decisions than the child who grew up in ignorance. When faced with future adversity, the child who grew up in ignorance may not know how to handle it, whereas the child who obtained greater awareness and knowledge would be better prepared.

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For those of us who did grow up ignorantly blissful, I find now that as adults we dream of returning to that state of bliss. To that freedom of thought and mind. Where responsibilities are taken care of and don’t pile up. When I am surrounded by children today, I find it easy to reminisce on the past blissfulness of being a child. I think of ways that I can once again experience that calm and blissful ignorance. Where the most difficult decision I have is about what movie I am going to watch.

Will we ever return to that same ignorant bliss?

We probably won’t be able to return to that exact bliss. The bliss of running in the streets with our friends and playing as though we have no responsibilities in the world; but that’s okay. With the knowledge and awareness we have, we are equipped to make better decisions and face life’s challenges head on.

After writing this article, I almost don’t feel that ignorance is bliss anymore. The child that is well-equipped and exposed to adversity will overcome future adversity and achieve bliss much quicker than the child who lives ignorantly.

So maybe ignorance isn’t bliss after all?

Let me know what you think down below in the poll and in the comments section! I’m interested to read whether you think ignorance is bliss or not.