Friday, December 22, 2017

Happy (?) Holidays

Time flies and it is already the end of 2017. Wow, already!? Gosh, 2020 will soon be here before we know it, let alone 2018!

So once again, the holiday season has arrived. As I wrote in the past about the holidays, (Holidays: Are they a Tough Time for You?), the holiday season can be a tough time for many people because of things like social isolation, personal loss that coincides with the holidays, unreasonable expectations of what’s expected at this time or year, or perhaps even seasonal affective disorder. Let’s try to have good awareness of our own personal condition at this time of the year and provide good self-care as needed.

Physically speaking, you may have extra activities and events, where you eat unusual things and in bigger portions, and consume more alcoholic drinks (or sodas). These in themselves can lead to inner conflict if you are at the same time trying to diet or eat healthier. Or you may become busier with shopping and work celebrations before you get to take some time off. Perhaps, even, you don’t have a job and feel the pressure of gift-giving when you don’t have the economic resources. Some of you may also be traveling or driving far to visit your family and friends at one of the busiest travel times of the year. So as you can see, it can be a time of year that is physically demanding, and loaded with expectations, which can be unreasonable.

Being busy by itself is stressful. Even if it is a fun time, parties and gatherings can be emotionally draining and exhausting. Whether you don’t have much to do over the holidays, or you have to work a lot to make it a success for family or friends, it can be hard not to compare yourself to others, as if everyone else is happy with their loved ones, but not you, leaving you feeling less-well-off and lonely. This is one of the worst times of the year for many people to feel lonely and unhappy.

Someone has asked me, “So then, what can we do if we are not feeling good?” As I wrote before, first, try to let go of the pressure to feel happy and/or have a great time with others. You may find all the pressure and expectations bothersome, annoying, time-consuming, and/or expensive. If that is the case, then just accept your feelings as they are. If you feel that way, don’t fight it. Fighting against these natural feelings is to give in to these expectations and will make you feel worse. Also feel ok to bitch about it as needed as much as you want to. Expressing yourself really helps to survive this time. Once you are okay with not forcing yourself to feel happy about the holidays or faking being happy about the holidays, then you can relax more. If you’re lucky, focus on appreciating what you have, while not comparing yourself with others unnecessarily. Being grateful for things, anything, is a great way to start feeling happier. 

If you are a more proactive-kind of person and you want to do something to recognize the holiday season to help yourself cope with your negative emotional experience, there is one thing that really works. You can do something good for others. For example, join some volunteering activities. You will be surprised how much you can do for others and how much people can appreciate you. We human beings experience happiness when we do something meaningful for others, and if you do, you will be feeling really better. For example, there are bound to be charities, churches, and foundations in your area that provide Christmas dinner for homeless or poor families, and they will be looking for volunteers to help out. 

If youfeel physically exhausted and/or your health is affected by your food and drink, be aware of your condition and take care of yourself better intentionally. Try and make the holiday season a time to take some breaks, eat better, slow down, and so on in order to treat yourself kindly. Your body is your vehicle to keep going in your life and if you don’t maintain it well, you will pay the price. Caring for yourself is one of the most valuable things you can do at this time of year. 

In short, again, it is really important to monitor your condition and take care of yourself. It is a myth that everyone is happy with no problems around the holidays. And it is okay to feel tired, stressed, and/or lonely. Let’s just be aware of our experience, and be kinder to ourselves!

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