One Dirty Magazine

It’s OK To Be Sad On Christmas

Whatever you feel, you are enough the way you are.

David Roche December 20th, 2019

It’s OK To Be Sad On Christmas

The title of this article is a metaphor. Replace “Christmas” with “Holidays” or “Wedding Days” if you want. Heck, replace it with “random Tuesday in January” if you’re a bit late catching up on your hot Trail Runner magazine content. The message is simple: emotions are not math equations. You’re enough right where you are, even if it’s not right where you think you should be.

If you’re still here, cut yourself off a thick slice of slack. Whatever you’re bringing into this moment, there is only one guarantee. Your life is complicated.

Basically the title is all I have to say. This article is being emailed out in the Christmas Eve newsletter, so I’m guessing more people will have the title shoot past their eyeballs than will click through and read the rest. You have permission to go back to doing Christmas Eve things, like putting out Santa’s cookies and subsequently eating all of Santa’s cookies because we all know it’s key to avoid low-energy availability

If you’re still here, cut yourself off a thick slice of slack. Whatever you’re bringing into this moment, there is only one guarantee. Your life is complicated.

 

A Peek through the Keyhole

This article is published by a running coach for that reason. Coaching has let me have a little peek through the keyhole into people’s lives. “The house is so beautiful,” I’ll hear people say, looking at a person’s life from the outside. “It’s so playful and fun! I wish I could have that house!”

Meanwhile, I am squinting inside and seeing a bunch of chimpanzees screaming and going Jackson Pollack on the walls with their feces. Our inner worlds can be weird, messy, gross and beautiful all at once.

Coaching showed me that it’s not just complicated in my own head. Christmas is a great example of that complication in action. Michael Buble tells me over and over that it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Parties for hosting! Marshmallows for toasting! It’s the hap-happiest season of all! Well … and I can’t say this enough … screw Michael Buble.** 

 

Emotions Are Complicated

It’s also a season with high rates of depressive episodes. Sometimes that’s related to the season itself and the darkness-related seasonal affective disorder that comes with it. Sometimes it’s due to the emotional darkness dredged up by the ghosts of Christmases past. It can be connected to one specific thing or everything or nothing at all. Here’s the only universal thing—sadness doesn’t have to have a logical, mathematical reason to be 100-percent real. Emotions are really freaking complicated.

Brain chemistry doesn’t care about a calendar. Memories don’t become rose-colored just because you’re under mistletoe. Those things might make you happy, sure. But they might also make you profoundly sad. And that’s OK too.

 

Tap Into Your Awesomeness

This holiday season, turn toward whatever emotion you are feeling and give it a big hug. If you’re happy, OH, HECK, YEAH. Practice gratitude for every little thing you can. If you’re sad, you don’t have to feel guilty about that emotion. Instead, lean into it.

Whatever feelings you have right now, they are a part of the whole, amazing you. You’re this collection of quarks and electrons that can sing Christmas carols and cry in the shower and do all of these other unbelievable things. That’s pretty awesome. You’re pretty awesome.

Running is partially about tapping into that awesomeness of our physical and emotional existence, so definitely run or do other activities that bring you meaning. But running is not everything. Talk to therapists and mental health professionals for help. Keep talking. Talk to friends, family and golden retrievers in Christmas sweaters too. 

And most of all, talk to whatever emotion you might be feeling.

“Hey, sadness/anxiety/depression,” you might say. “I love you.” 

“Because I love me.”

 

——–

 

**I now realize that Michael Buble did not record “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” on his Christmas album. Still, the point stands. Screw Michael Buble.

Happy Holidays!

 

David Roche partners with runners of all abilities through his coaching service, Some Work, All Play. His book, The Happy Runner, is about chasing your potential and having fun along the way.

 

 

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Kate
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Kate

I love YOU, Mr Roche! Thank you for the year of awesome articles, and best Christmas wishes.

David Roche
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David Roche

YOU ARE SO INCREDIBLE KATE!!! THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING!

Andi
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Andi

this was great, thank you

JR
Guest
JR

Thank you David. That article was much needed and the feelings of isolation that go along with these emotions tend to subside if you know others feel it too.

Karla
Guest
Karla

Gotta say, envisioning my current life issues as feces-throwing chimps is kinda awesome. Your articles are always my favorite. (random observation – you wrote and entire article without any parentheses and I want to be sure you are OK)

Scott Rosenzweig
Guest

Just wanted to say thanks for this, it was appreciated… Happy trails, Coach.

Rob
Guest
Rob

…a little hurtful.
Sincerely,
Michael Buble

Dawn
Guest
Dawn

Thank you! Such an important, relevant, and human statement/article. Happy holidays!

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

Love the article. Perfect timing.

megan eastwood
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megan eastwood

thank you for this! i have the metaphorical “beautiful house”. People think i have this amazing life (which in my none sad moments i acknowledge I have a pretty awesome life) but i have my dark moments too, and i’m in one this Christmas and just trying to get through, we all have demons and past events we are working through. I agree, screw “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and to whoever wrote the line “Hallelujah, Noel be it heaven or hell.The Christmas we get we deserve” i say thanks!! that’s just what i don’t need to… Read more »

Gen
Guest
Gen

That would be Emerson, Lake and Palmer – my favourite Christmas carol.

Fabienne
Guest
Fabienne

Thank you a million times over David. Your article made it to my mailbox at the perfect time for me. I hate Holidays because the really bad memories it brings.It never gets easier and the dread factor increases exponentially each year…
So I went for a leisurely run on this bluebird days and felt way better afterwards….mainly because I cut myself a huge piece of slack and got out on the beautiful trails.
So thank you for your article and the heck with Michael Bubble!?

Bob C.
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Bob C.

As a 74 year old trail runner trying desperately to hold things together with duct tape and baling wire, your article gave me a lift. It’s okay to be falling apart slowly, but still doing things rather than doing nothing and just staring into the abyss, like many my age. For the few races I do run, my motto is ‘never last…but close’. It’s been accurate so far. Thank you. You are a fine source of encouragement.

Gen
Guest
Gen

Bob, you’d fall apart a lot faster if you DIDN’T run! Two of my 70-something bike rider friends said “We’ve decided we’re not going to worry how old we get, we’re going to keep going.” Signed, Pass Me That Duct Tape…

David Elliot
Guest
David Elliot

74 yo trail runner…that alone inspires me. Gives me hope

Anne Levy
Guest

I always love your articles. Thank you for each one.

Firefly
Guest
Firefly

Thank you–a much-needed commentary. I lost my 2 beloved dogs this last year, 8 months apart, and it has been hard to feel like celebrating much.. My running is helping me to “get out of my head” and deal with the emotions. It has also been more fun as I work with our new rescue dog who seems to love to run as well.

Kimberly Canarecci
Guest
Kimberly Canarecci

Thank u David. I definitely needed to hear this.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Good stuff sir. For the last 20 years I’ve spent many Christmases away from home in the Army. I’m retired since January of this year and spent today doing hill repeats in mother Nature. Hold each day dearly and waste no time for it goes fast and cannot be replaced

Jesse
Guest
Jesse

Thank you for writing this

Jen N.
Guest
Jen N.

Thank you so much for your wise and humorous words. I’m reading this on Dec 26th and similar to how I feel after a challenging race or training run, I’m saying, “thank God that’s over!” Change can be hard and I’m struggling through a relationship change, but my first and best love, running, waits for me next to my sneakers. Thanks again and be well.

Will
Guest
Will

I was looking for articles on intensity vs. mileage and instead found this gem! Thank you for putting my thoughts into words and for your kind encouragement. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why we can be sad on Christmas, but thank you for reminding us that is, indeed, okay!

Mel
Guest
Mel

Had a horrible episode with my less than classy new brother in law on Christmas day. Emotions were flying but changed my clothes, grabbed my shoes and found the biggest hills in town for repeats as a form of therapy. Ran a little crazy off. Your article hit it on the head. The holidays aren’t always jolly and that’s ok. Care for yourself, Treasure the ones you love and pray for those that you don’t

Rachel
Guest
Rachel

Thank you! From the dark cones the light.

 

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