Surviving the Holiday Funk

Published November 23, 2020 by Sheila Anne Murray

It was my first holiday season without my mother and I was stuck in a funk.

I felt like I was being pulled in two different directions - gratitude and grief - and I felt completely uncertain about how things were supposed to be. As there is no rule book called “How to Celebrate, Behave, and Grieve Following The Loss Of A Loved-One” (that I’m aware of) my usual, perfectionist way of getting things done was not going to cut it.

And so, I white-knuckled my way through my first mother-less holiday season. Sometimes I was surrounded by friends and wanted to be alone, other times I was alone and wanted to just be held. There were moments of apprehension and sadness, then joy and lightness.

Nothing was the same. Then again, life moments are hardly replicable, so I suppose that is always the way.

I am writing to assure you that whatever feelings you’re feeling this holiday season… they are not the wrong ones, nor the right ones. They are the true ones. It is most vital that you begin to believe that, in your very bones, and that you give yourself the permission and compassion necessary to move through this time.

So, are you in a bit of a funk? I’m here to offer a few helpful things that I’ve learned to keep in mind. Let’s jump in!

Social media does not equal reality

Social media is not reality

I’m confident that you likely logically know this one 🙄 but stick with me.


  • Facebook was designed to connect university students
  • Instagram was designed to share pretty pictures
  • TikTok was designed to share quick comedy, dance, and music videos

No social media platform was designed to offer the full-picture reality that is another human’s life. And yet… during a time with so little in-person connection, social media can be a go-to form of seeing what someone else is “up to” or checking in on how someone else is “doing” without the work of calling them up or writing them a personal message.

Though you may logically understand social media does not equal reality, have you ever forgotten this detail when you’re scrolling? In a more isolated environment, social media can feel more and more like reality but it was never supposed to be this way.

I promise you that (if you use social media) you will see lots of smiles, cheer, community, travel and togetherness through the holiday season. That’s just how it goes. It will be your choice how you want to digest this information and if you will then compare it to your own life and reality.

I can also promise you - if you are breaking tradition, staying home, keeping your family safe, grieving a recent loss, or feeling generally heavy this year, you are not alone. Keep this in mind if your news feed becomes a highlight reel of merriment and extravagant holiday feasts. If you are cooking up a box of Annie’s Mac & Cheese for your holiday and are trying to just get through the day solo, you are doing the very best you can and you are in good company.

Here’s the good news. You have the power here to control your mindset around social media and the degree to which you relate it to your own life. My best advice - don’t look around. Stick to what you are doing, enjoy the posts of others if it makes you happy, make sure you’re being real with yourself.

Your feelings are real

Speaking of being real with yourself - let’s get real about emotions. As I mentioned at the start of this, it’s vital to give yourself the permission and compassion to allow emotions to transpire without judgement. Feelings that arise do not fall into “good” and “bad” buckets, nor can they be labeled as “should feel” and “should not feel.”

We are emotional beings that think. Our emotions, conscious and unconscious, manifest in the body as well as the mind. You may be tempted or even accustomed to judging your own thoughts and feelings, and you are not alone in doing so. However, if you judge your emotions you are fighting against your very nature and it will only make it harder for you to move through the emotion to the other side.

Here are some general tips when it comes to feelings.

  • Treat yourself with the same respect and compassion as you would show a dear friend.
  • When a feeling arises, simply notice it. Be an observer of your own life and brain pattern.
  • Send compassion to the part of you that is feeling lonely, annoyed, frustrated, resentful, or otherwise.
  • Give yourself permission to be with that feeling, and then choose again when it feels right. Meaning, when you feel yourself on the other side of the emotion or thought, investigate what else you might feel - such as gratitude, peace, supported, brave.

Feel what you feel. Emotions are real.

Meditating, taking a pause, feeling

Honest communication rocks

If you’re going through a funky period, remember that those who care about you want only the best for you, and it’s up to you to decide what that “best” will be.

Maybe last year you were the cookie-Queen-gift-giving-extraordinaire.

Maybe this year you want to cozy up on the couch and watch the Crown.

It’s not your biggest responsibility to instantly text back, head up virtual festivities, or be jolly to every individual you see. Your biggest responsibility is to be your honest self. This year give yourself the gift of asking: “what is my best today?” knowing that it might look different than yesterday or tomorrow.

Next, communicate your needs to those who you love, and who love you. There’s no need to show up as anyone other than your authentic self. Let’s be honest - doing that is exhausting. There’s also no need to force conversations you don’t want to have, no need to take on others’ advice, drama, or responsibilities. Instead, what would it feel like to communicate what you really need - like space, time, patience, support, etc.

Of course, there is an opportunity to just ghost everyone you know but is that what your highest self wants? The secret is that people want to be with you on your journey, even if that means giving you the space you need to be alone. When we share how we are really doing, humans are more drawn to us and feel a more intimate relationship. Best case scenario, you inspire your support network to ask the same of their support network. Maybe a friend of yours has wanted the courage to be real with her family about taking on too much, and now you’ve given that inspiration to them.

I love the post below by OptionB

Managing expectations during trying times

You have power!

Your energy has power, your thoughts have power, your intention has power. Don’t give away your power! Taking some pressure off yourself, feeling your feelings, and doing your best doesn’t mean that the world will just happen around you. In contrast, you might find that a little extra honesty and self compassion will make you more powerful because you are living in alignment.

Everyday you have the opportunity to wake up, grow, and evolve. You have the opportunity to learn from your body, treat yourself right, and set realistic measures of success. If you are feeling funky, set yourself up for success with a simple checklist like 1. Get out of bed 2. Put on pants 3. Drink some water. Boom! Suddenly you’ve succeeded in checking off 3 things, which can be really satisfying if you’re an achiever type. This is more realistic and healthier for your mindset then, say, planning a packed day and dragging yourself through it just to feel “accomplished.”

This holiday season might not feel as good, easy-breezy, or community-oriented as the ones previous. That doesn’t mean you can’t indulge yourself in simple acts of self-care to make the best of what you have.

Here are some simple acts of self-love to indulge in during the holiday season.

  • Wash your face every morning
  • Blast music you love
  • Pick a snack or meal you’re excited about making
  • Write down your gratitudes
  • Prioritize sleep over screen time
  • Move your body in the way that feels good for you

Check out my guide on 5 Steps To Support Your Well-being

Use your superpowers

I know that the phrase “the new normal” has been floating around, to describe the current state of things. The phrase has never sat quite well with me. Ever since my mom passed two years ago I’ve been wondering what the “new normal” will be and I promise you I haven’t found it. There is no “normal” way to think, feel, act during times of uncertainty and grief. There will always be a big spectrum of what “normal” is to each individual.

One thing I am sure of is that this holiday season is not the new tradition, nor an indicator for how we will spend our time in the years to come. This season will come, it will pass, and things will surely change next year. They always do.

This year, be aware of the power of your thoughts, be gentle with yourself, try some honest communication, make success (and self-care) simple.

I would be happy collaborate with you on an individualized plan to step further into alignment and into the life that calls to you. Please click here to view my schedule to set up your first free call.


Sheila Anne