Sad during the holidays? Embrace it, psychologist advises

woman in santa hat looking wistfully out the window
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What’s commonly known as “the most wonderful time of the year” isn’t so joyful for some. Many people find that the holidays can bring stress, tension, or loneliness — and one psychologist says it’s okay to let yourself feel that way.

Dr. Michael McMahon, a psychologist and host of the Psych with Mike podcast, told KMOX that two things — expectation bias and confirmation bias — can make us feel bad about feeling bad.

“We have an expectation that this is the most wonderful time of the year, because that's the messaging that we are sent. And then when we don't feel good about that, we assume there must be something wrong with us,” he explained. “And so our confirmation bias then kicks in and says, ‘Yeah, see, there's something wrong with you. Everybody in the world is having a great time, except you.’”

He said it’s important to accept that there’s nothing wrong with you, even if you aren’t happy during the holidays. Part of what stops us from being able to do that, he said, is the messaging around holidays, and our desire for them to be perfect.

“Part of it is our own desire that if we could just have this perfect holiday, that somehow things in our lives would be better,” he said. “They're not going to be, because on the 26th of December, things are going to be the same as they were on the 21st of December. And we don't know how to mentally do that arithmetic.”

Hear more from Dr. Mike Mahon about how to have an imperfect holiday season and not beat yourself up about it:

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images