The holidays can feel stressful.
This year, perhaps even more so, with the current state of the pandemic.
You may be feeling health concerns, financial fears, and decreased mental health.
There's a general consensus that times are tough and alcohol helps.
Drinking is promoted as a way to cope with the madness.
The “at least there’s wine” mentality is harmful to many.
Alcohol actually adds to the exhaustion, anxious feelings, and regrets that you may already be feeling.
Here’s a few tips for managing the holidays in healthy ways:
1- Acknowledge the loss.
The holidays may not feel like "The Most Wonderful Time of Year", if you are missing someone you love. Grief is amplified during the holiday season. Whether you are missing someone you are not getting together with this year, or missing someone who has passed, this can be a time of deep sadness. Allow yourself to move through your feelings. Give yourself the space you need to cry, journal, and reflect. It is up to you to validate and affirm your own feelings. It is ok to feel emotions, other than joy, during the holidays. You can expect and allow feelings of loss, disappointment, and anger to arise as well. Feelings are temporary. The sooner you recognize them, the sooner they can be felt and let go. Avoiding or stuffing these feelings, is like trying to keep a beach ball underwater. It will cause a lot of energy and suffering, without letting go. The feelings will continue to pop up and can only be freed once addressed.
Whether you are traveling, hosting, or anything in between, one reason life seems to go haywire during the busy holiday season, is because we get off track with the things that keep us physically and mentally healthy in our everyday life. If you work out everyday, you can continue to prioritize your work out. Fresh air and movement cure a lot of ailments, and just because your work or home routine is thrown out of whack doesn’t mean you should give up on the things that keep you centered. If your early morning routine includes journaling and meditation you can keep that commitment to yourself. If you like to tuck in early with a book and a bath, you can excuse yourself from company to take care of you. Keeping the balance within despite what is going on around you, will go a long way towards managing stress this holiday season.
Traditions hold value in most families, but it is ok for traditions to change. New activities and connections can come from remaining open to new ways of doing things. Traditions typically mean expectations. Expectations lead to resentment. What if you lowered your expectations and allowed room for new? Just because something has always been done one way, doesn’t mean it always has to be that way, or that it is working for everyone. Perhaps an after dinner family walk can replace after dinner drinks. Maybe you want to introduce a new card game. Maybe a video call with relatives instead of a happy hour works best this year. It is ok for things to change. The less expectations you have and the more you can go with the flow, the less you set yourself up for resentment. The branch of a tree that remains flexible in the wind bends. The branch that stays rigid breaks. Doing your best to be open and flexible with yourself and your family is a huge step in feeling connection, not resentment.
It is up to you to make decisions for you and your family that work best. Not everyone is going to like or approve of your decisions. That is ok. It is your job to make you happy and healthy. It is your job to prioritize you. It is ok to be happy even when everyone does not agree with you. You do not need other’s opinions and approval to do what is best for you. You only need your opinion and approval. Others do not know what is best for you. Only you do. You are the only one living in your mind and your body. Getting buy in and agreement from everyone is not possible. Being your own North Star will guide you the direction that is right for you.
Does it surprise you that joy is the hardest emotion for many? We allow ourselves to suffer, but when it comes to happiness we have a hard time. We fear if we let ourselves go in the moment, the other shoe will drop. And it will. This is all the more reason to stay present and let yourself enjoy right now. Everything is temporary and our moments are fleeting. We know life is short and the only way to live to the fullest is to allow ourselves our fullest expression of joy right now. We can take joy despite what is happening around us. We don’t have to save joy for when everything is right in the world. We can have joy in the midst of pain. Our joy does not diminish another’s circumstance. Feeling joy does not mean we do not feel the pain in the world. We can both savor the moment for ourselves and contribute to the greater good. Feeling joy for the sake of joy, adds more joy. It is ok to let go in a moment and allow ourselves to connect, to laugh, to fill our cup, to take our mind off of overthinking, and to just be. It is more than ok, it is absolutely necessary. It adds to the health and greater good of all. Taking care of yourself, takes care of the world. You have permission to take moments for the sake of joy this holiday season.