The winter holidays can be a festive time spent with family and friends. But for many people, this season is fraught with stress and feelings of sadness. There is a lot of pressure during the holidays to be jolly, spend money on gifts, and enjoy the company of people you may not care to be around. So, what can you do if this is you?

First of all, you must honor how you feel. If you are not full of good cheer, acknowledge it. And talk about it to someone who has no particular investment in your state of mind. Get it out. Not expressing how you feel only makes things worse. pretending you are happy when you really aren’t is fodder for an ulcer.

And when it comes time for dinners and parties, especially with others who are close to you, mete out your time carefully. If you think you are going to sit by yourself in a corner, stay home. But if putting on some holiday duds helps get you in the mood to spend a couple of hours with people who care about you, get out there.

Most of all, don’t beat yourself up for not being in the holiday spirit. You are not alone. The holidays can be a pressure cooker for feeling jolly, and many people are just not there. Be true to yourself and do what will make you feel best. Those who love you will understand. But if you think showing up at some festivities where you know your absence will be felt, and going feels more right than not, take yourself out of your comfort zone for a few hours, and have a good time.