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You may be really dreading the holidays this year—to the point of having an anxiety attack or at the very least an emotional meltdown.

A lot of people do. Perhaps someone close to you has died, and you miss them terribly. Perhaps you are trying to have a baby, and have been unable to, and you are surrounded by friends and family who are awash in precious children. Perhaps your marriage is really difficult right now. Perhaps you are single and wish you weren’t. Perhaps nothing is “working”. Everything just feels wrong. And when everyone else looks like they are enjoying holiday celebrations, it just makes you feel so isolated and depressed.

You are not alone, even though it may feel like it.

The holidays can make life’s regular problems seem absolutely terrible. So how do you stop yourself from being overwhelmed and depressed?

First of all, stop comparing your insides to other people’s outsides.
Because I am a counselor, I can tell you that many people who look great on the outside have some pretty major problems, and some pretty severe pain. We don’t like to share that in our culture, but it’s absolutely true.

Second, learn how to love yourself.
Make yourself some tea and give yourself a break. You’re a great person. You’ve made some mistakes, and maybe some of them are really huge, but that doesn’t mean you are worthless. And it doesn’t mean your life is over.

Lastly, try to pay some attention to what is working.
It could be something as small as enjoying your pet. It could be just enjoying the fresh air. It could be a book that is interesting. Cultivate an appreciation for whatever you can, even though times are difficult for you right now. It will help you get through the pain. Hugs to all of you who are sad right now. Don’t give up.