Laughing and Crying Through the Holidays (These Days it's Both)

Holiday's Stress

In my office and in my personal life, I am reminded of how difficult holidays are for most humans, without the 2020 extras.  Thrown into the mix now is a more emotional ups and downs, sadness, anger, frustration, and anxiety that 2020 has brought on.   

We now have the ingredients for a perfect storm.  At least this is what I call it in my office, when all things converge to create an internal meltdown. (This is the ideal time to call a therapist to avoid this outcome.)

Individual Struggles + 2020 Extras + Holidays = Perfect Storm

Individual Struggles 

  • Death of a loved one affects you for years to come and holidays are a reminder of this loss!
  • Unhealthy family members
  • Being "alone" for holiday functions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Illness and extenuating circumstances that interfere with your expectations for the holidays
  • Having difficulty trying new things (New Traditions)

How to Move Through this Perfect Storm

With these external and internal reactions, the perfect storm is brewing.  There are practical solutions for moving through it.  Just know that if you cannot engage in these solutions, then it's time to see someone.  These ideas work with individuals who are not too far into that perfect storm.  They DO NOT work when the "storm" is near a category 3 -5; this is when you need support.

1. Asking for Help!

There are several reasons why asking for help is difficult, but number one is that people think that they should have it completely figured out on their own.  Like we, humans, are inadequate if we need help when actually we are social beings and this interaction binds us together in a magical way.  

Be sure you are requesting help from healthy individuals who will not shame you.  The hands of others is solace during difficult times, but it is important to be guided by healthy ones.  

2.Keeping Traditions (Normalcy)

If you customarily cook a meal for the holidays, then keep it going. Prepare a meal this holiday season, even if you don't feel like doing it. It is important to keep your own traditions going.  Decorate the table and cook the desserts.  

3.Limit Social Media

Just like I would not want to sit in front of family members fighting, don't watch things on TV or social media that is upsetting. Protect your mood.  We can't watch upsetting things for hours a day, without it spilling over into our lives.  So if you are bothered internally, minimize external exposures and mood swing triggers.  We cannot control what is displayed on social media, but we can minimize our time spent in building our internal storm.  

4.Exercise

This is another favorite of mine.  High intensity interval training or HIIT, walking, biking, or lifting weights can have a powerful affect on mental health.  This as a practice provides a healthy foundation for mood improvement.  

5.Talk to Someone

I see so many clients who feel better just simply by talking to me. Sometimes because they don't have trustworthy people in their lives- and instead are surrounded by critical, judgmental individuals who refuse to maintain privacy.  Other times we don't confide in others because we don't want to burden them, or allow them to see our vulnerability.  

All humans need someone, so find someone to get real with.  If you can't find a person in your life, find a therapist.

6. Mindfulness

This is a great thought practice.  It can be a short meditation practice. It just keeps us in the present moment, just like the children in our lives.  Learn from them by redirecting your attention to the present moment.  Children do this constantly when they are playing.

7.Practice Gratitude

And of course because it's Thanksgiving, practice gratitude.  Even though this is not my way.  So many clients practice this daily and report great results.  It is a thought practice that can be done in the darkest of times.  Be mindful of whether anger or grief is blocking you...you may need to vent these feelings in order to start this practice.  

Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

Often, life does not provide what we want or need and at certain dreadful times along our way, horrible things occur.  These times are inevitable because they are part of being human...what is critical is how we hold the course during these such times.  We must hold the course through stability within our actions in order to create stability in our moods.  These actions lesson the intensity of the storm.

Please share this with someone you think needs support.  Or if you are the person needing support, ask for help!!!  We are changed by our actions, not by our thinking!!!

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