Festivals are different for everyoneWhile many associate festivals with joy and togetherness, others experience feelings of isolation and anxiety.
From our early years, festivals have been synonymous with joy and love in households everywhere. While this rings true for many, it’s vital to acknowledge that not everyone experiences festivals in the same way.
Festivals can be fun, and many people look forward to them all year long. We relish the time spent with family, share laughter with friends, and indulge in our favourite foods. For some, these moments are cherished, but for others, festivals can evoke feelings of isolation or being overwhelmed. This emotional reaction might be linked to past experiences, like the loss of a loved one or memories of tough times.
Anxiety is a common occurrence when festivals approach. Being surrounded by many relatives and family members adds an extra layer of responsibility on our shoulders. Comments such as “You’ve lost so much weight; you should eat more” or “You haven’t found a job yet; you should start working now” are well-intentioned but can affect us deeply. While these remarks come from genuine concern, their impact on our emotions cannot be ignored.
Feeling lonely is a common experience for many during festivals. This loneliness often stems from the high expectations we hold during this time of the year. When close family members or partners aren’t around to celebrate with us, we can feel overwhelming sadness and a sense of isolation. Distance from family members due to geographical reasons can compound these feelings. Additionally, some individuals might feel emotionally disconnected from those around them, leading to a sense of loneliness.
Similarly, those who are grieving may naturally feel isolated during festivals. In our culture, we observe a year of mourning during which celebrations are avoided as a mark of respect for the deceased. This period can be emotionally challenging. The loss of a loved one can trigger a flood of memories, especially during festive occasions. Witnessing others celebrate can intensify the feeling of missing out, leading some to withdraw from social gatherings until the festivals have passed.
Financial stress can cast a shadow over our festive joy. Every person celebrates festivals in their own unique way, but societal pressure often makes us feel obliged to spend extravagantly. Our holiday budget might not align with these expectations, and it’s essential to accept that. Comparing ourselves to others and setting unrealistic goals only adds to the stress. Instead, we should celebrate meaningfully and within our means, avoiding unnecessary financial strain.
Moreover, the festival frenzy on social media amplifies our emotional struggles. Constantly capturing moments on our phones and sharing them online can distance us from the present, creating a sense of guilt. Social media showcases idealised lifestyles, inducing stress. While it’s tempting to compare, it’s crucial to remind ourselves to appreciate what we have rather than measuring our lives against others’ online personas. Counting our blessings can bring more genuine happiness than any comparison ever could.
Festivals mean different things to different people. While it’s natural to want everyone to join in the celebrations, it’s crucial to respect those who might feel overwhelmed or prefer to be alone during the holidays. Instead of pressuring them to enjoy, we can offer understanding and support. Helping them navigate their emotions and find ways to cope with holiday stress can make a real difference.
This festive season, let’s celebrate the variety of human emotions and experiences. We can create a safe, comfortable space where everyone can celebrate in their own way. Being kind and compassionate to ourselves and others is key. Let’s focus on making memories filled with love, joy and laughter.
Moktan is a psychosocial counsellor at Happy Minds, a mental health and well-being platform.