As you might imagine, the holiday season brings a host of varying thoughts and feelings. Some people look forward to the holidays all year and find reprieve in the hustle, bustle, and connection of the season. Others dread them and do their best just to survive the months of November and December.
So, we thought we would share small snippets of some of the most common conversations we have during the holiday season – in and out of our offices.
One of the biggest concerns that most people have during the holiday season is how to navigate gatherings with extended family. Generally, it is important to evaluate each gathering or event separately and reflect on what your needs (and the needs of your family and friends) may be for that event. Some helpful reflection questions might include:
For those of you who may be dealing with loss this year or remembering loss from previous years, it is helpful to acknowledge those painful feelings and not put pressure on yourself to perform or mask those feelings during holiday events or family gatherings.
• Give yourself permission to attend or not attend certain events
• Identify the emotionally safe people in your life and intentionally schedule some time with them
• Be mindful of self-care, which can take many forms.
Some people think that therapists only talk with people about the pain and challenges of life. However, it might surprise many to know that we often have the privilege to help craft positive and connected experiences with family and loved ones. When you are wanting to create more connection and emotional intimacy with loved ones, these ideas might be helpful:
> Reduce the pressure to have a “perfect” event and focus more on creating space for everyone to connect emotionally/relationally
> Do a fun activity together where no one is an expert, like a Christmas craft, a gingerbread house, or an ornament swap
> Go on a nature walk or hike and observe what is around you and express your feelings about the event (walking and hiking also has the added benefit of calming the nervous system down)
> Ask some emotionally connected questions and have everyone take turns
In summary, the holiday season is rarely perfect and often brings a mixture of both positive and negative emotions. And, that is normal and human! We can all work toward holding joy and pain together.
From the Journeys family to you and yours, we wish you moments of peace in the midst of an often challenging and difficult season.
This Post Written By:
Roxane Thorstad, PsyD – Journeys Counseling Center
6516 S. Rural Road, Suite 101
Tempe, Arizona 85283
Phone: (480) 656-0500