For some people, the holidays really are the most wonderful time of the year—but for others, January 1st can't come soon enough. There are tons of reasons why you might not want to celebrate—maybe you just don't like the holidays, maybe you've got social anxiety and the pressure of attending party after party is too much, or maybe you need to take time to focus on your mental health for other reasons.
Frankly, the holidays can be super stressful and overwhelming, so it's all totally understandable—to us, at least—if you want to tap out this year (or every year). But if you feel like your friends and family think you're just being a Scrooge and continually try to get you into the holiday spirit, you're definitely not alone. Here are a few steps to dealing with all the cheer pressure:
Know that it's OK to say "No."
First and foremost, don't let anyone make you feel guilty about not wanting to attend or participate in something. That goes for the whole year, not just the holidays—you should never force yourself to do something you're not feeling up to, no matter the reason. If you don't want to go to a holiday party, own your decision—most people who care about you will understand if you say you have a conflict or you're not feeling up to it.
...But be willing to compromise a little
You also should be willing to see things from the other side—for your loved ones, the holidays are clearly important and having you there means something to them, not because they want to put pressure on you (even if it comes off that way) but because they care about you and enjoy your company. You don't have to go to everything, and you don't have to be the epitome of holiday cheer, but if you can find a happy medium that makes both you and your loved ones happy—like going to one important celebration, but forgoing the rest, that'll take a lot of the pressure off of you.
Be open and honest about your feelings
But of course, in order to do any of the above, you need to be willing to talk about your feelings. Whether you just really dislike celebrating the holidays or you feel too anxious to attend social gatherings, you should let your loved ones know. You don't have to go into detail or share every last thing you're thinking, but having a chat about it—and how the pressure your friends and family put on you makes you feel (make sure you frame this in a way that isn't accusatory, but thoughtful)—can help them understand you better, and will likely lead to them being more considerate. If not, remember step one: Don't feel like you owe them anything.
Go early, before parties get crowded
If you dread the thought of being social but you still want to try and be present for your friends and family, try making it a point to go to parties and events early, and leaving before things get too crowded and overwhelming. Sometimes all you need to do to make others happy is show up and make an appearance. How late you stay is up to you, and if the situation stresses you out, leaving early gives you time afterwards for some much-needed self-care and alone time.
Find other ways to participate
On the other hand, if putting yourself in social situations during the holidays is just an absolute no on your list, that's OK. You don't have to go to anything you don't want to, but maybe there are alternate ways you can celebrate with your loved ones. For example, if you like to cook, you could bake holiday cookies for people and exchange them one-on-one—you'll still be doing something considerate and thoughtful for the holidays, but without all the pressure of attending a dozen parties. You might also consider having small get-togethers with friends and family, so you can still spend time with them, just on your terms.
How do you handle cheer pressure around the holidays without feeling like a scrooge?