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Why don't I feel festive this year? Here's how to cure Christmas 'disconnect'

If you're lacking in Christmas spirit, our happiness oracles have some words of wisdom  

An Asian woman who spent Christmas or New year alone away while using a digital tablet at her apartment.
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
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December is upon us, but a quick poll of the HELLO! office revealed that we're just not feeling the festive joy.

No matter how many mulled wines and mince pies we mainline, our brains can't seem to switch into sparkle season, but it's not just us feeling more scroogey than usual, as positive psychology consultant Casey Paul explains: "This year, the magic of Christmas seems a little dimmer as a sense of anxiety and stress replaces the typical festive cheer for many.

"The backdrop of global conflicts and political turmoil, coupled with job insecurities, personal loss and challenges, an undercurrent of fear can overshadow the usual joy of the season."

Woman wearing sparkly antlers looking out a window© Getty
It's natural to feel low at Christmas sometimes

 Life coach Mhairi Todd agrees, noting the economic climate isn’t doing anything for our festive feels either.

"The cost-of-living crisis has a lot to answer for, not just on the physical price increases we are all experiencing (food shopping has almost doubled, what?!) but also in the general zeitgeist of how carefree, or not, we feel," she says.

"Christmas is a magical time but there is no avoiding the incredible financial pressure it brings with it, and while money may not buy you happiness, it can certainly improve your sense of safety and wellbeing."

While not feeling festive isn’t the end of the world, it can be frustrating to not embrace the happiness the season usually brings - and could impact our overall happiness.

Side view of thoughtful woman looking through window© Getty
Are you feeling Christmas disconnect?

"The absence of that magical Christmas feeling can have a big impact on your mood," confirms Casey. "The festive season typically brings a wave of joy and generosity and these positive emotions play a pivotal role in shaping our overall sense of wellbeing.

"Christmas is also an opportunity for connection, which plays an important part in our happiness with gatherings, social engagements and cherished moments spent with loved ones. If someone finds themself disconnected from the seasonal mood or shies away and chooses isolation, it can inadvertently lead to feelings of loneliness during this special time of the year."

If you’re with us in your lack of jolly holiday feelings, read on for Mhairi and Casey’s advice on how to embrace the joy of the season.

DISCOVER: Why do I feel sad during winter? An expert explains 

How to feel happier this Christmas 

1. Banish expectation 

"It's common to pin a lot of expectations on certain times of the year such as holidays, birthdays and Christmas, but when our expectation doesn't match up with reality we are left feeling at best deflated, at worst disillusioned," Mhairi says.

"Know that we as humans are wonderfully complex beings, so we can feel a myriad of emotions all at once," reassures Mhairi.

Young lonely woman drinking red wine during Christmas holiday© Getty
Many of us aren't feeling as festive as usual this year

"You don't need perfection to get the Christmas vibes going.  You can be heartbroken, missing a lost loved one or hating your job and still experience happiness and joy.

"Give yourself grace and permission to feel all the feels.  Simply taking off the weight of expectation can be a game changer. Remember, you don't need to be deliriously happy 24/7 to have a nice Christmas."

READ: 5 life coach-approved ways to feel happier - without spending a penny 

2. Find things you are grateful for 

"Gratitude is such a simple way to alter how we feel about where we find ourselves in this present moment," says Mhairi.

"It's not looking to change what's going on, but finding the gems that exist in your life as it is, no matter how hidden. Try this prompt: 'This Christmas season, I am super grateful for/that...because...'. Be sure to write it down if you can, it makes the process more meaningful."

Casey agrees on the importance of gratitude, adding: "Gratitude can powerfully shift your focus from what's lacking to what's abundant in your life. With gratitude being one of the top positive emotions, make sure you practice gratitude for what you already have this Christmas.

"To amplify the power of gratitude, try getting your loved ones to share what they are grateful for too and let people know you are grateful for them. When we express our gratitude for others, it not only uplifts our own spirits but also strengthens our connections with others."

3. Curb the comparison 

"During the festive season, it's crucial to resist the temptation of comparison,” cautions Casey. "By ditching comparison, you’ll have a more positive and fulfilling Christmas experience.

"Constantly measuring your celebrations against others can lead to feelings of inadequacy. By letting go of the urge to compare, we can truly be present and free ourselves to savour the joy in our own traditions and create lasting memories."

Side view of thoughtful woman looking through window© Getty
Banishing expectation can make us feel happier at Christmas

4. Boss your boundaries 

"There can be a lot of pressure and expectation from others over Christmas and you can often feel like you are being pulled in so many different directions," Casey laments.

"Make sure that you don’t neglect your own personal wellbeing practices and put your own boundaries in place. This will ensure that you avoid feelings of overwhelm and extra stress, so that you can show up for others over Christmas as the best version of yourself.

"It is so much better to say no to things that really don’t serve you rather than saying yes and then carrying low vibe negative feelings."

Learn how to be happier with our HELLO! Happiness Hub

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