I went to a major retailer to pick up a couple last minute gifts, when I noticed that a big sign on their front door. It read, “OPEN 24 HOURS UNTIL CHRISTMAS EVE!”
Ugh. I hated that sign – to me it represents everything that’s wrong about commercialized holidays. Yes, gift giving can be a form of love and celebration. But we take it to the next level. It consumes us and stresses us to the point that we forget what we’re even celebrating. Bah-humbug! The extreme commercialism of the holidays makes me grumpy…
… But to be honest, I was already feeling kind of grumpy. With recurring grief, financial stress, a cold virus, and depressing world events, plus the aforementioned irritation at commercialism, I have a serious case of Grinch brain.
What is Grinch brain, you ask? Here’s a definition for you:
Grinch brain [grinch breyn]
- A state of being marked by seasonal irritability, fatigue, negative thinking, preoccupation with future tasks, and poor attitude that dampens everyone’s holiday spirit.
- Often accompanied by extreme sensitivity and negative response to Christmas music, brightly colored holiday displays, Christmas commercials, and jingling bells
- Not caused by or associated with chronic depression.
- See also Debbie Downer, Eeyore or Scrooge.
I just feel “blah”. I usually adore the Christmas season. I light my Advent wreath, I read my Advent daily reflections, and bask in the Advent-themed homilies at church… I love it!
But this year I ran out of steam.
Now don’t get me wrong – I still have joy. I am joy-filled at the gifts that are my husband and daughter. I am thankful for my job, a roof over my head, and food to eat everyday. I have joy that Christ came to the world and saved us all by taking the form of the most vulnerable being. I have hope in His resurrection.
But just because I have joy does not mean I feel excited or feel happy.
Instead, I feel tired and sad and worried. And in case you were wondering, it is possible to have many emotions co-exist in your body at the same time, and still choose joy and gratitude in your heart. It can be confusing, but it’s not uncommon.
If you find yourself or another loved one suffering from Grinch Brain, here are some tips:
- Get out of the house.
- I know you’d rather wrap yourself in a Slanket and binge-watch reruns of ‘Friends’, but you need to remind yourself that there’s a big, bright world out there and it ain’t all bad. If you look carefully, you’ll see kindness wherever you go. You can even make a game of it – look for it intentionally in every place you stop. Write it down, if you feel so inclined.
- Be around people.
- I know you’d rather be a sad-sack all by yourself, but believe it or not, we all need human contact to maintain our sanity. If you can’t tolerate talking to anyone, at least go sit in a coffee shop for awhile, sip some tea, and play the “look for kindness” game mentioned above.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Your Grinch brain needs sleep. End of story.
- Drink lots of water.
- Especially if you’ve been crying and/or drinking alcohol and/or caffeine. You need to hydrate, or you’ll feel worse.
- Go on a walk/run/swim/bike ride.
- I know movement is the last thing you want to do, but as much as you hate it, it does help.
- Go to Mass and/or adoration.
- Only God can love us perfectly. Go bask in His perfect glow!
- It’s almost magical how helping others can give you a dose of instant-happy. It’s like God designed it that way…
To all my fellow Grinch’s, know that I am praying for you this Advent season. I pray that despite all the feels you feel, that God blesses you with the warmth of his love, the comfort of his presence, and the delight of the gift of His son, Jesus. I pray that Mary wraps you in a tender, loving, spiritual bear hug, and that come Christmas morning, you feel true happiness knowing Christ is present in the world.
Finally, as we approach Christmas Day, I have included a last-minute “Advent Challenge” for you all below.
Advent Challenge: Christ came to bring us all together in his mercy and love. We are called to reach out to those who are alone, suffering or gone astray. Remembering those in our lives who need a friendly reminder that we’re thinking of them, grab a stack of Christmas cards and get to writing! In case you forgot how to snail mail, you need to put the letter in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and take to a place known as “the post office”. They’ll take it from there. 😉