It’s the end of the year again and you may feel depressed or anxious just to think about holidays’ gatherings and celebrations.
How can you prepare yourself to better cope with the intense pressure of celebrating when you don’t really feel up to it?
Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness says “ there’s this idea that holiday gatherings with family are supposed to be joyful and stress-free, but that’s not the case. Family relationships are complicated. But that doesn’t mean the solution is to skip the holidays entirely.”
Lets start with this question: What is it about the holidays that get you down? Once this answer is clear and you identify the problem, you can deal with it better. If not, it’s like living with a Ninja around you – you can’t see it, you can’t hear it, so you can’t fight with it - and you carry that low energy all through the days.
Lets look into possible reasons. For many people holiday stress is caused by:
Or perhaps there’s not a specific reason you can put your finger on, but you just aren’t feeling warm and fuzzy. Perhaps you have a cold or your allergies are kicking in,
so, you don’t really feel like socializing.
Regardless of where you are this season, give yourself a break and recognize that there’s no right or wrong way about what you chose to do. Perhaps you'll choose to travel, or to stay home. Follow your heart and do what you feel like doing,
but understand that it's your choice.
In spite of what you decide to do,
I would like to share with you that there’re different ways to perceive reality.
Once you learn to recognize your part on the big game of life, you’ll understand that you are at choice about your own thoughts and actions, and you can shift them at will.
When you shift your perception of reality the outcome will change too.
I invite you to navigate with me through an ocean of possibilities. This may change it all around, because it is the way we think that creates the feelings we experience in life.
Let’s look into these examples of holidays’ perceptions.
I have included some thought provoking questions to show you that you shift
the way you are looking at things.
1)“I’m alone and nobody loves me. I feel like there’s nothing to celebrate”
You don't feel like seeing anyone. Maybe you’re afraid of not having enough money to celebrate, or that you have sad memories of past Or perhaps you don’t want to deal with people’s comments that might ruin your mood.
Just the thought of the holiday terrifies you and you would rather disappear
from the universe.
The best way to deal with these feelings is to face and embrace them.
Make an effort to put on a smile because it will make you feel better.
Reach out to people you know and suggest activities that you like. Mostly, for those who feel emotionally isolated, the holidays are a great opportunity to deepening the connections you already have. Choose one person with whom you might get closer and make an effort to spend time with them.
What is another way to interpret this feeling? Am I really alone?
Or do I chose do be alone? Do people really want to hurt me or are they also
dealing with their own perceived stress in their lives?
2) “I Hate Christmas”
Perhaps you hate social gatherings or you think it’s just a consumption-focused time and you don’t agree with that. Perhaps you don’t agree with the religious aspect that it embraces, or maybe you're upset with memories of the past; or that you don't have the day off from work. It could be because of that one person that you hate and you don’t want to see again.
You’d rather just forget the holiday completely. Wherever your story is, you feel like blowing it off! You feel conflicted and defiant.
Here is the thing – feeling angry is like drinking poison and wishing someone else dies. All anger is a reaction to some perceived threat, so it naturally serves as the body’s evolutionary cue to ready itself for combat. Anger affects your thinking quite as powerfully as it does your body. It affects your health in such a deep way. So, the best thing to do is to process your anger.
I suggest that you take responsibility for how you perceive people and things and turn it around.
The first step is to RELAX. Take deep breaths, go for a walk or take a bath.
The second step is to RE-ASSESS by looking at the situation in a different way.
These questions may help you:
- Am I assuming anything that needs to be verified?
- Is this situation as serious as I think?
- Am I exaggerating this or taking it too seriously?
- Can I re-focus on things that I like, instead of on things that I don’t like about this person or thing?
- Can I see this situation from the other person’s point of view?
- What difference will this situation make in five years from now?
I could probably list another bunch of questions to ask when your vulnerability buttons are getting pushed, but hopefully, these examples will suffice.
Bottom line always look for alternate ways to perceive whatever provoked you, so that you can let it go. Most important is to know that no one rather then yourself has the power to make you angry. For, in the end, this “warlike” emotion is something that’s created in our own mind.
3) “I don’t have time to celebrate”
You could care less about the holiday, and have better things to do with your time - you think it's just another day. If you decide to attend an event, it's because you feel obligated and you make sure people know it. You want to have fun doing the things that you want to do and to not be bound to an event established by society. You rationalize, pondering the good and bad, and then you decide at your convenience. Your feelings are more important than anything else. Your attitude is like as if life was a game and you always have to win. The problem with this attitude is that your rationalizations and justifications take too much energy from you and you may perceive life as a battle. Everything is a problem and until you have all the details figured out you don’t relax.
I suggest that you step back from the “game” and look at the bigger picture. Life is not a competition and it’s more important to enjoy the journey because it sure ends one day. So, how about dropping all pre-concepts about the holidays and just see it as if you have never experienced it before?
4) “I love the holidays and I want to see everyone happy”
You absolutely love the holidays! You believe it's a great opportunity to show your love, so you get busy preparing and doing everything: from gifts to meals, you do it all! You end up feeling overwhelmed! Perhaps you even engage in charity work and your agenda is so busy that you have no time to breath! You feel responsible for saving the world, and you always have great concern for others, but not much for yourself. Oops, did I say that? Yes, you lack self-love. It’s all about everybody else, but not you. You don't know how to ask for help or how to set boundaries. You get frustrated.
So, at this time, let’s make a change. What about making something special just for you?
What about gifting yourself with the gift of relaxation and allow everyone else to participate by delegating a few holiday duties?
Self-love is the seed that brings real peace to the world.
How can you practice self love this season?
Remember, during the holidays and in life, your thoughts determine how you feel.
You can change your reality when you change how you perceive it.
It’s all your choice.
Even in the darkest times, there are still things in your life to appreciate, and those can be celebrated. Keep these perceptions in your mind and open up your heart, because positive attitude can also bring you success in all areas of your life.
Holiday blues can be managed by implementing the tips listed above as well as seeking out social support. Coaching, therapy and support groups can be of benefit if the symptoms are too much to bear alone. Seasonal affective disorder generally responds well to embodiment coaching. Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Reach out for help if you need.