The Holidays are no longer coming. They are here. In full swing. And with them, come our holiday guests. Many invited, some not only uninvited but unwelcome. This time of year is supposed to be filled with joy, laughter and cheer. There can also be sadness, anxiety, stress and depression. And there’s plenty of reason for it.
No matter how excited and love filled your holiday is, there are also a lot of expectations. Expectations we often set on ourselves, trying to fulfill the demands we perceive. The time we usually spend on self-care, we fill with shopping, decorating and hosting. Starting before Halloween, we spend our days planning and buying. We worry about money, gifts, and family. And all that worry, all that lack of “me time,” builds and weighs on us. Instead of enjoying the season, we wait for January 2nd when it all ends and we hit reset.
My family will be celebrating with a Christmas tree and laughter at my parent’s house. Traditions that we’ve carried through the years, yet modified with time. As a kid, much of my extended family lived within an hour of us. Christmas Day was spent with everyone running through my aunt’s house. The table filled with dishes we each brought or made together. Music, often played by my uncle or cousins, filling the air. And laughter bringing us all together as we fought over who got the BEST present and attempting to play family games which no one could agree on the rules for.
As time has gone on, the group of us in one place has changed drastically. Instead of everyone running through the same house, sharing food and stories at the table – we rely on phone calls and FaceTime to connect us. Here’s the truth, that isn’t the same. And when things just aren’t the same, sometimes there’s sadness.
We miss our loved ones. Both the ones in different locations, and the ones no longer with us. We wish we could bring everyone together and share in those memories again. Not only does there bring some sadness, there also comes added stress and expectations. Now, those Christmas gifts don’t wait patiently under the tree. Instead, they have to be ordered and mailed early enough to be delivered in time. We have to deal with the Post Office in the weeks before Christmas. We anxiously watch our online orders to see when they’ve been shipped. And, when we get that notification that they’ve been delivered, we worry again. Will they be broken from the trip? Will they be stolen from the doorstep?
This time of year is not just about joy and cheer. But, can also be about the struggle and emotions that weigh on us. However, instead of counting down until the season is over, let’s pause and enjoy the moments we’re in.
Everyone has different coping mechanisms. And, I support each person’s healthy processes. But if you need, here are some extra tips on enjoying this week. And any week that finds leaves you feeling like you’re in the middle of a storm:
*Pause! Take a moment, it doesn’t matter how many things you have left on your list, just take a moment and breathe. You can do a simple breathing exercise, or even just close your eyes and take a deep breath. Your list will still be there when you open your eyes. And a few pauses to breathe will only help you.
*Acknowledge your feelings. Don’t sweep things under the rug. Don’t put them on the back burner, just trying to get through the next check mark. It’s ok not to feel cheery and bright. It’s ok to be frustrated or sad. But allow yourself to recognize how you’re feeling. And accept those feelings.
*Reach Out. If you’re feeling like it’s just too much for you. If the weight of your emotions, or your family’s expectations, or the amount of baking still left to do is too heavy. Reach out. Friends, family, or professionals. They are all there to support you.
*Don’t forget your Me Time. I know, any personal time or space right now is hard to come by. But don’t abandon your self-care and healthy habits. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to enjoy that pumpkin pie guilt free. It does mean, that taking care of yourself is just as important today as any other day. If that means you need to go for a run or do a little meditating in the bathroom before you can face the next task. Then do it. Maybe it has to be shorter than your regular routine. But that’s ok too. Give yourself what you need.
*Accept the changes. Our traditions have to adapt with time. They grow and expand with additions to our families. They morph, or maybe get let go, with losses or moves. And all of that is ok. No, it’s not the same. But not the same doesn’t mean bad. This year may be different for you than past years. And maybe there is sadness. But, accept those changes and enjoy what you can create today. We get to build new traditions and new memories to look back at.
I hope you all take this moment for yourself. Close your eyes, and breathe in deeply. Fill your lungs with that inhale. And exhale, emptying your lungs. Clear your mind as you fully inhale and exhale once more. Stay here for a few breaths. Feeling that energy, bringing calm. When we breathe deeply, we’re telling our brains we’re safe and we can relax. We aid ourselves in reducing tension, stress and anxiety. So, breathe in fully one more time. And when you exhale, know that you are ready to handle the next thing on your holiday to do list. Whether it’s a last minute run to the grocery store, or figuring out where to place everyone at the dinner table to keep the peace. You’ve got this.
Yours in Health and Harmony