“‘Tis the season to be…” and for many of you, navigating this time of year is a challenge. You are expected to show up, be joyful, spend money you may not have to spare, deal with family, or maybe find a reason that it is okay that you are, in fact, alone. There are parties, shopping, baking, and cleaning. There are cards to mail, socializing to attend to, and gifts to wrap just so. Expectation is high, sunlight is low, and money is flowing out the door.
So before the games truly begin, let’s take a moment to look under the covers of some things that might help you navigate this time of year.
Manage Your Holiday Stress
This usually happens when there are expectations, real of imagined, that you need to meet. It can be exhausting to put on that happy face, to deal with that obnoxious uncle, or to find a gift that is perfect for that someone who has everything. Whatever the reason, the root is expectation.
Set Healthy Boundaries
- Give yourself permission to feel what is going on, then step back and notice why you believe you “have” to do something. Are you trying to protect someone’s feelings, live up to someone’s expectation, or hold back on uneasiness of a situation? Release anything that is not your expressed desire and let it go. You can only manage yourself so focus on how amazing you truly are.
- Have realistic expectations of this season. It is okay for you to be who you are the other 11 months out of the year and not permit others to trigger your sensitive issues. Keep yourself real and know who everyone else is. Walk away from the energy not supporting you. Take a drive in your car to nowhere to get away or a take walk in the park. Find what works for you to step away when things are out of your control.
Release Holiday Grief
Holidays are hard for those of you who have lost someone special. The loss can weigh heavily on you at this time and you deeply miss the sharing and the laughter that are now memories.
- Share your memories with others and laugh, bringing their love forward and in the present in a healthy and healing way.
- Nothing will be the same and this is the perfect time to plan new traditions, different celebrations, or new perspectives of this time of year. Change is constant, so embrace moving forward as your loved ones would like you to do. Know that they are there in your heart always.
Navigate Holiday Loneliness
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Maybe. Everyplace you go, every TV station, every social media outlet, and every mall describes holidays as a time for gatherings, friends and family. Expectations are high, and you may feel pressure to be happy and socially connected and this pressure may push you even further away.
Here’s a little secret, I too share a feeling of separateness and not really belonging during this time of year. I acknowledge this feeling as real and find ways to be a part of all the life that is going on around me.
Rather than force your way through loneliness, realize that your feelings are valid.
- Step back and change your perspective. Look at yourself as though you were in a movie theater and you are on the screen. See yourself feeling what you feel while the person in the audience is feeling neutral and separate. Observe these feelings and purposefully change the person on the screen to the you at a secure and happier time. That person is still within you now.
- Loneliness feeds loneliness and can become an ever-growing cycle. Reach out to a friend and plan to meet for coffee or a walk in the mall. Go to group settings; church, meet-up, or a networking event. Go to your nearest tourist attraction and mingle with the crowd. Get connected and share the energy of others and watch how they can lift you up.
In all cases, find the right mentor to work through this time of year with you. One who will help you identify the right activity for this year’s holiday survival. There is always a moment that can be looked at differently. You have the ability to become empowered with the understanding of who you are and embracing your life, holiday season or not. You have the right to be even more conscious of how to make choices that are perfect for you.
If not now, when?
Make conscious choices for your Holiday Survival now.
Gail Kraft, Author, Trainer, Strategist, and Mentor guides her clients in navigating their relationship to life.