How to Get Through the Holidays When You Just Want to Skip Them

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Picture of sad woman at holiday time. Pinterest pin with words: How to get through the holidays when you just want to skip them?

What do you do when the holidays are right around the corner and you are not in the mood to celebrate?

How do you get through the holidays when you just want to skip them? Here are the reasons why I choose to spend time with my family and friends even when I am missing the holiday spirit.

How to Get Through the Holidays When You Really Just Want to Skip Them

Okay friends, we made it through Thanksgiving. If you are walking around with a slightly dazed look and are wondering how you are going to get on the happy train for Christmas, then read on.

For some of us, the holidays create a feeling of sadness and it can feel difficult to get int the spirit of things.

I know for myself, in some years, I would look around at happy families and couples and just feel depressed about having to pretend to be happy myself.

It’s a tough call, skip out on holiday get-togethers or put on a pretend happy face. I’m going to offer a third solution. Be you’re amazing human self, feel what you feel, and once you are clear on that: either get-together or don’t depending on what is best for you.

Most of us will try to put this aside and just do our best to “celebrate.”

But trying to celebrate when you feel depressed, sad, lonely, or similar feelings can be tough!

Why Do I Feel Like This at the Holidays?

Emotions can run high or they can be low. Feelings can get hurt. It takes some resolve and effort to navigate these times. Family time can feel stressful and messy, However, I do believe with all my heart, that being together is worth the effort.

I hate missing out on family things! My family? Honestly they are my favorite people. So, it would have to be very extreme for me to miss out on a family event. To tell the truth, I’ve only skipped out once.

The year I was going through my divorce, I just couldn’t do Christmas Eve with my in-laws that year. It meant missing out on Christmas Eve with my own children though.

This was long before I had worked with a life coach and well before I became a life coach. Yet, I chose self-care that night. It, however turned out to be the last event, I skipped because I didn’t want to be around my ex-husband or his family.

It wouldn’t however be, the last time I wanted to skip a holiday event because I felt down.

I thought about skipping Thanksgiving once. It was again the first year after the divorce and my ex-husband was going to be there too. One of the kids was hosting and invited everyone. It was up to us to come or not come. They didn’t want to do separate Thanksgiving dinners.

It seemed kind of harsh that they did that, that year. Yet, it was also kind of brilliant.

So, I didn’t skip it. I went. I don’t think I stayed long but I did it. And I survived. I actually did better than survive. I discovered that most of the angst I thought I would feel, was mostly in my head—before the event.

The event itself was fine. I enjoyed the people and food and being a family. Since then, our family has celebrated holidays and birthdays together. I’ve had my ex to my place and I’ve been to his. We’ve even done a trip as a family.

I’m not sure we would have been able to do this, if I’d kept skipping holidays because I thought they’d be too hard. And for what it’s worth, being able to do things, all together without too much drama makes me happy.

Even when times are tough, these are the people that know me best and I don’t have to pretend too much around them.

Give yourself permission to participate as much or as little as you need. From personal experience, even though I’ve at times wanted to skip things, I didn’t. For me, I decided the feeling of being left out would feel worse than being there.

So, first I’m going to give you some reasons why you might want to participate and then I’ll tell you how to prepare ahead for it.

Reasons to Celebrate Even When You Don’t Want To

Life can change in an instant

Appreciate the people you have in your life now.

Even if they aren’t perfect, if you have family or friends to be with at the holidays, you are blessed. In the last few years, we’ve lost a few members of our family.

You really don’t know when the last time you’ll see someone is the LAST time you’ll see them.

Several years ago at my daughter’s wedding, I was super busy being the mom of the bride and such. I didn’t have time to spend with many of the guests. I was happy that they were having fun and I was happy they were there. Yet, I don’t remember having too many conversations.

Except one. It was short and I’ll remember it forever. Remember my ex in-laws from the Christmas story above? Well, this was the first time, I was going to be spending significant time with them. For some reason, I ended up in an airport for a couple of hours with ALL of them, minus my ex-husband.

They embraced me like I hadn’t been a freaking avoiding weirdo for a year and half and we shared some wine waiting for our next flight.

One of my brother-in-laws, made a special point of telling me that I would always be his sister and that he loved me. Once to our destination, I don’t remember talking with him again.

I had no idea that this would be the last time, I would spend with this beloved member of my family.

Little did I know, that my brother-in-law would die suddenly only a couple of months later. I can’t go back in time and spend another Christmas Eve with him, but I also won’t let another holiday go by and not celebrate in some way with the people I love.

Missing out can feel worse!

Sometimes, it is exactly what you need, to stay home and skip a family or friend get-together.

However, most of the time, it will feel worse to miss out if you haven’t examined your thoughts ahead of time.

I know that even though, I may not feel in the best of mood at holiday time, I genuinely will enjoy being with my family and friends more than I would enjoy being at home.

You are craving connection but you are also afraid of getting hurt

This is something that fascinates me all the time. In an effort to protect ourselves from getting hurt, we actually push our loved ones away.

Almost everyone does this at some time. Let’s say you have a grown child that you don’t think acts the way a loving child should act. She doesn’t call or invite you to do things.

Maybe she’s not raising her kids in a way you approve.

You feel hurt that she doesn’t act interested in your life or doesn’t want to connect with you more.

So…what do most of us do. We quit calling or texting as much. We think that by pulling back, we are actually protecting ourselves.

Yet, what we are really doing, is creating even MORE distance!

We are choosing to hurt ourselves even more. Because 9 times out of 10, the person you want to connect with, actually does love and care about you.

Even more important, you can love and care about yourself first. When you are choosing to love yourself first, then you can be with that person without requiring them to change anything.

That’s when you begin to feel real connection. You feel it with yourself first and then it is so much easier to extend it to others.

Picture of red bow on background. Pinterest pin with words: How to get through the holidays when you don't feel like it.

Be Mindful of What is Important to You

Don’t compare your holiday, friends, or family to what you see online

Allow your holiday to be imperfect. You don’t get bonus points in life for having a “perfect” holiday. You do get points, so to speak, for showing up, and being with your people.

I was at a good friend’s home last week. She was putting up her gorgeous decorations. Her house glittered with soft lights and beautiful things. Christmas music was playing. She was looking forward to her family arriving.

Usually, I feel wonderful being in her house. This time I felt sad. I started comparing my life to hers. I missed having a big house and a husband to bring in the tree.

And you can’t be online without seeing all the holiday themed things people are doing.

It’s so easy to look at our lives, our families, or even our decorations and feel like we don’t measure up in some way. This is NOT helpful at all!

Another thing I used to do was compare what other people had or what they got for Christmas. I would feel less than because I didn’t have as much or as nice things.

The spirit of our celebrations are about people, love, giving, and receiving.

Choose how you want to feel during the holidays

For many of us, we think we are supposed to feel happy and when we don’t we think something has gone wrong.

Feeling happy can happen, but it’s also not realistic to expect to feel happy all the time.

You can choose to feel other feelings on purpose. I wrote a post a while back on how you want to show up.

As we go into the holidays, this is something that I want to remember to practice. I can choose ahead of time how I want to feel and show up to anything.

You really can decide to feel certain things. You can choose to feel compassionate, loving, peaceful, kind, or even curious.

I’d say that many of us make a different kind of decision. We may show up as powerless, afraid, on-guard, resentful, or not enough.

But choosing to feel kind, accepting, and compassionate is truly empowering. Most of us want others to feel like this about us, but we can do it first!

Focus on what is important to you

I love beautiful decorations but it’s not something I spend a lot of money or time on. For me, I look forward to getting to spend more time with my family.

Other people have thousands of dollars of elaborate decorations up and they love it as does their family.

Some people use this time at the end of the year for reflection and growing spiritually.

Others want to focus on giving to their community and helping those less fortunate.

And there are some people that don’t celebrate the holidays at all.

Guess what? All of the above are just fine. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of holiday.

We don’t have to do Christmas like a Hallmark movie. It doesn’t have to look perfect or have a happy ending.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • If I could spend this time, however I want, what would I do?
  • What would I do if I didn’t care what anyone else thought of it?
  • What is most important to me right now?
  • How can I take better care of myself?
  • How do I want to connect with others?
  • What is holding me back from doing things my way?

How to Get Through the Holidays

I originally wrote this post 5 years ago and I was just trying to get through the holidays. These days, I plan to do more than just get through the holidays. As I’ve re-written most of this post, I realize that what I’m actually writing about is how to thrive during the holidays.

Maybe this year, the best you can do is get through. That’s how I was years ago. I just wanted to get through. Since that time, I have raised the bar. I want to thrive, take care of myself, and connect with others.

If you want to learn to not just survive the holidays but thrive during them, then give yourself the present of working with me as your life coach.

All my clients are able to have stronger, better relationships much quicker and easily than they could have ever imagined.

How do you want your next holidays to feel? You get to decide!

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Keep showing up my friends,



I'm a certified life and weight loss coach who helps women feel better and get the most out of their lives! The process of life coaching teaches you to love yourself and gain self confidence in a safe effective way.

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  1. Jen @ Saving with Spunk on December 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Remembering the sweet memories we’re making with our family who won’t always be around is what keeps us going. And I totally agree with not comparing on Facebook.

    • Sara on December 12, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      Jen–thanks for reading and commenting. I’m enjoying reading your blog! I am fascinated with your story. Way to go.

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Hi, I'm Sara Garska and I'm so happy you're here! Big changes can happen with a shift in thinking. Over time, you transform your life into the one you always dreamed of having. As a certified life and weight loss coach, I can help you create a life you love. Click here to schedule a free 50-minute coaching session.