There’s decorations everywhere covered with glitter and glam, most people are smiling or somewhat cheery. We’re all running around making sure everyone on our shopping list has the perfect gift and we have the right outfits for various events and gatherings. You took your kids to get their picture with Santa, and they have the lists ready to go. The holidays and really fun in so many ways.
But I also know the holidays bring up a lot of stuff for people. Grief gets activated by thoughts of a loved one who’s no longer with you on special occasions, traditions are compromised because of the blending of families, or your perfectionism has taken over and every detail needs to be worked out months in advance to ensure a Merry Christmas for your family. Yikes, that’s a lot.
Sit in this for a minute, and reflect about what’s coming up for you right now-the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When you go to your various gatherings for the holidays, I’m sure you look forward to seeing family members you don’t always get to spend time with. It’s a great time to catch up and reflect on meaningful relationships. I beg the question-are you actually engaging in your relationships during the holidays? Are you talking about real things, or focusing on making sure the appetizers are placed on the counter in parallel lines (I may have done this before!)? Are you sharing about the things that are going well AND the things that aren’t? How vulnerable are you really?
I don’t know a single person that doesn’t have stress or related anxiety, depression, or grief around the holidays. It’s normal to experience these difficult emotions. I am going to make a couple of suggestions to make the most out of your holiday, and by that I mean having a fulfilling experience that will enhance your own personal wellbeing and your interpersonal relationships.
1. Be honest with yourself, starting NOW, and about how you are REALLY doing. Understand that all feelings are valid, and all emotions are important. Emotions have functions, and we need to explore them to understand their purpose in order to deal with them. Filling your holiday with making everything perfect will not take away the pain of missing someone important. Distraction is often an effective coping skill, but it has limits. You can’t avoid those feelings forever.
2. Set an intention for this upcoming holiday season. Make a list of a couple of things that are most important to you, for example “I want to spend quality time with my family,” “I want to get in touch with my spirituality,” “I want to make lasting memories and create traditions with my family,” “I want to improve my relationship with my father,” “I want my partner to feel loved and appreciated”. This list is not “I want those beautiful earrings we saw the other day,” kind of list. These items are things you feel will help you grow as a person and make a significant impact on your life. Then break those down into steps you can take. If you want to spend quality time with your family, schedule a family day and play games or go to the zoo. If you want to get in touch with your spirituality, attend a faith service or read a book that appeals to you.
3. Make every decision this holiday season based on whether the action will serve your intentions. If you have the intention of spending quality time with your family, and you are faced with either going to your son’s soccer game or vacuuming your living room and cleaning the bathroom…easy choice. Look back at your list of intentions for having a meaningful holiday season. If having a perfectly manicured house serves one of your intentions, then by all means go for it. But don’t make that decision out of obligation or because you fear judgment from your in-laws. Make that decision because it will help you get to a better place for yourself.
Let me know by commenting below what’s on your list on intentions this holiday season? I am excited to hear what all of you are looking forward to doing that will help you make the most of these next few weeks as you slow down, listen to yourself, and put effort into making your life exactly what you want it to be.
If you are looking for other ways to improve your life, gain balance, and improve relationships, I am here to help. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist located in the Clear Lake area of Houston, Tx. I also provide online therapy for residents of Texas. Call me at (832) 827-3288 for a free 15-minute phone consultation to ask questions and get to know me better. The holidays are stressful, but you have control over letting that defeat you or making choices to build yourself up. Start by making yourself and your wellbeing a priority.