Mental Health Lessons from Hallmark Holiday Movies
Hallmark is popular during the holidays for its stories of love, tradition, and family. It also provides us with plenty of valuable mental health lessons. Hallmark’s holiday films teach us to be ourselves, be courageous, and find help during tough times.
However, certain lessons should remain confined to fictional towns like Candy Cane Town or Garland, Alaska (IYKYK).
Here is a list of Do’s & Don’ts to help you navigate the holiday season.
DO: Allow yourself to be in the moment this holiday season.
An enchantment occurs in every Hallmark Christmas movie when the protagonists finally give themselves permission to shed the weighty responsibilities of their “big job in the city” and embrace the joyous atmosphere of the festive season.
Take a few moments to be in the moment this holiday season. Enjoy a cup of cocoa, go to the Christmas Village in LOVE Park, or have a relaxing movie marathon at home.
Whatever you do, know that you have a right to invest in yourself, slow things down, and recharge amidst everything going on in your life.
DON’T: Leave your children with a random person you met at a Christmas Tree Farm.
This lesson feels like a Don’t that should not need an explanation. But there is always a point in every Hallmark holiday movie where a random stranger has a meet-cute with the main character (and their family). Then, everyone decides it is okay for this stranger to take their children to holiday activities while the main character works or runs other errands.
Best practice would suggest that leaving your children with a stranger is NOT the way to go, and you might have to alter plans to ensure that your children have quality care.
Building trust with someone you just met is important…. but trust is built over time, so please slow things down.
DON’T: Gaslight the people you value.
A difficult part of intimate relationships (romantic, sexual, or platonic) is potentially having hard conversations. You might need to regulate yourself to have these conversations. Remember to speak from your own experience and speak your own emotions.
If you are unsure about getting married, have been hanging out with the town handyman, and your fiancé drove to surprise you for the holidays, it may be time to have a direct conversation.
Do not gaslight that person into thinking they were “crazy” for thinking you wanted to marry them because they did not notice until two hours into the trip that you stopped wearing your engagement ring.
DO: Leave your comfort zone for a little bit.
Your everyday life might consist of spreadsheets, conference calls, trips to the store, and mundane tasks. But this holiday season can be a time to step out of your comfort zone and spice up your life.
What might not fit into your everyday schedule but feels doable this time of year?
Take a break. Turn off your computer, get a hot cider, and go for a walk in town. While it might be uncomfortable to divert from the usual schedule, it can also yield a sweet experience that would not have happened sitting at your computer.
DO: Prioritize what is important to you.
You might be being pulled in many different directions. Maybe your partner’s family expects you to spend the holiday with them, or you might be overwhelmed by invitations to parties and festivals.
Take time to prioritize what is important to you, including declining invitations.
During the holidays, stay focused on what matters most and let that guide your decisions amidst all the busyness.
According to Hallmark, that might mean you must pass on the highly competitive decorating contest because stress is NOT high on your importance meter this holiday season.
DON’T: Make assumptions that impact all your decisions during the holidays.
At the 1 hour and 40-minute mark of every Hallmark movie, a misunderstanding leads to irrational and pre-mature decisions that almost completely derail the holiday.
A person overhears a conversation and decides not to participate in the Gingerbread House competition. Alternatively, they assume someone else will take the new promotion in the big city. As a result, they choose to end the relationship.
Unfortunately, in reality, you can’t always fix everything quickly. Take it easy this holiday season and think carefully about the reasons behind your decisions.
Do I need more information?
Do I need to have a conversation with someone?
Do I need to communicate my wants and needs more openly?
Whichever way you can ground your decisions, choose what you want and take the time to do it.
DO: Rely on your community for support.
This time of year can be hard for many people and isolating amidst the bright lights and holiday festivities. Do not be afraid to share with your community that you might need additional support. You deserve to occupy space in your relationships, and your community is there to help you carry the weight you are feeling.
Unfortunately, a wise older gentleman does not always arrive at the exact right moment to give you hope during the holidays, like in Hallmark. If you do not have a community this holiday season, consider working with one of our therapists at Council for Relationships to help identify who can be part of your support system.
We are here to help, and you are not alone.
DON’T: Build your relationship on your love for a specific holiday.
Do not base your relationship solely on a shared love for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa.
In your relationship, you will face challenges. Your shared love for Grandma Annie’s Christmas pinwheel cookies will not necessarily help you during those tough times. Make sure you build a relationship rooted in mutual respect, healthy communication, and acknowledging each other’s wants and needs.
Both of you being holiday fanatics is a bonus.
About the Author
Allen-Michael Lewis, LMFT, AS, is Council for Relationship’s Director of Clinical Internships and a Staff Therapist. If you have questions about these mental health lessons from Hallmark holiday movies or would like to request an appointment with Allen, click here.
If you are looking for individual, couple, or family therapy or psychiatry, click here to request an appointment. See our Therapist & Psychiatrist Directory for additional CFR therapists or psychiatrists near you.
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