Last week I offered . How has that gone for you? If you are anything like me, you've been running into some resistance... your own and probably that of those with whom you share this season.
So, are you thriving this week or just barely holding on? This season of peace and joy is advertised as the most "wondrous time of the year" and yet many of us ask "why am I not feeling wondrous?"
For many of us, the holidays can be stressful. The unrealistic expectations of the season cannot possibly be met and we are bombarded with messages of holiday cheer earlier and earlier. The buildup is impossible. We have our "to do" lists that are as long as our arms. Some of us just can't bear to get dressed and go to another party, and yet we can't bear saying "no thanks" to our gracious neighbors or co-workers. And then there's the anticipation of getting together with extended family, which can also have its challenges. Have I stressed you enough yet???
Please consider these suggestions for thriving and having less pressure over the next couple of weeks:
Try not to "over-expect" in romanticizing the holidays. Lowering our expectations allows us to be fully present to what is, rather than focusing on what isn't. Giving ourselves permission to be "only half perfect" can reduce some of the anxiety. (I think I said that last week, didn't I?)
Limit your commitments. Choose activities that bring you joy and remove yourself from those that make you feel rushed or pressured. Stick to a reasonable budget. Avoid excessive drinking and eating. Trust me... I know how hard this is! Get enough rest so you have a reserve of energy when situations get difficult for you.
Remember what the holidays are really about. With weeks and weeks of ads and Christmas music being piped in wherever we go, it's easy to forget about "the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown"... family togetherness, spiritual enlightenment and being with those who mean the most to us. We have the ability to turn off the "Christmas machine." And if your family does get the best of you...
...Make a conscious decision ahead of time to let "it" go... Breathe. Stretch out your neck and shoulders and breathe again. Emotions can run high during the holidays with family expectations and unresolved issues. And the greatest gift you can give is understanding the other guy when conflict arises.
The choices we make for our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors during the holidays are ours and ours alone. Journal your awareness of gratitude regularly and perform charities for others. This can lift your spirits to jolliness you may have never known. I hope you find peace, love and joy this holiday season.
Marianne Seeber is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Pathways Counseling of CT, a private counseling practice in Brookfield. She can be reached at 203-733-6207 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.