The first of many holidays—in November, December, and January—is upon us and for those who celebrate those holidays, they may evoke some complicated emotions. One individual could view these times as joyous, exciting, time that family comes together, traditions, and time away from work or a school schedule.
Meanwhile, some perceive holidays as stressful and chaotic because traveling and family visiting could lead to a busy time. Especially when feeling the pressure to decorate, be in the mood to host, and to get things in order before copious visits.
On the other hand, sad and depressing could be more appropriate adjectives for the next person. For some clients, this time of year is a reminder of a lack of relationships or perhaps the first holiday since a loss. If this time of year has the tendency to conjure up more of those negative emotions, maybe there is something we can do.
So how do you tend to feel during the holidays?
Do you notice a change in your level of stress or maybe short-tempered with others?
Reflect on your body’s response—do you get tense, overthinking increases, isolating, tearful due to feeling overwhelmed, or notice you tend to be more anxious?
For many people, the holidays come with an added pressure of trying to make everything “perfect.” Having the perfect dinner, the perfect decorations, and the perfect gifts can begin to take priority for some.
How to Manage
When reflecting on the time spent in making it presumably perfect, we may realize we missed the point. Sometimes, the pressure comes from others within the family, and sometimes—the pressure is truly coming from your own expectations. Shift your focus and reflect on the following:
What really matters to you?
Is there a religion associated with your celebration that you want to focus on?
Do you care about quality or uninterrupted time with family?
What do you truly want from these holidays?
Ask yourself the important questions. Rather than focusing on all the other “stuff,” make sure you are not missing out what you actually care about.
There are some families that do not celebrate the holidays for several reasons. One of those reasons may be related to familial discord. If there is conflict in a household, a choice may be made to forgo the celebration of a holiday.
These next few months may be sad and lonely for individuals who are not amongst the festivities. These emotions may also be present for people who are celebrating their traditions but have lost a loved one.
It can be extremely challenging to continue with family holidays when we have lost someone we care about. The feelings associated with grief and loss often become even more intense and powerful around times of celebration (i.e., birthdays, holidays, etc.).
How to Manage
It may be helpful to prepare for these times as much as possible. Depending on the individual and their situation, preparation may include the following:
Making plans with friends to ease the loneliness
Going to an event or festival
Engaging in self-care to take care of yourself
Consider if you would like to acknowledge your loss or take time to honor/remember them.
Reach out for support by talking to a therapist regarding the grief/loss—ahead of the holidays.
As we embark on this journey, I would encourage you to take some time and ask yourself what you may need to get through these next few months of holidays.
The following are 4 additional techniques that can help you cope ahead of the holidays:
1. Some people may have high expectations and feel disappointed when there are unexpected hurdles. Be realistic about what to expect. Holidays may not turn out exactly how you planned, but that does not mean that they cannot still be enjoyable.
2. Focus on one day at a time. Instead of focusing on what’s next or what is to come, take it one holiday at a time and reset before the next one.
3. Ask for help rather than attempting to take on anything yourself! Planning, cooking, cleaning, and hosting can be overwhelming to do alone. Do not forget to ask for help from family or friends if you are struggling to manage everything.
4. During the holidays, people tend to lose their routines when they take on new things. When overwhelmed, go back to what makes you most comfortable. Exercise at a time you normally would, listen to music that is comforting, and make time for meditation.
If you think it may help to meet with a therapist to discuss your unique situation, I would be happy to set up an appointment with you. We can discuss the emotions that may come from these times, as well as coping skills to develop in order to ease the process.
If you are unsure where to start or how to start this process, reach out for counseling services. We are here to help!
To book our counseling and coaching services visit: Nayaclinics.com/book-online
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