Thanksgiving Season: Holding on to Peace
Dr. Rick’s November 2019 Newsletter
Have you ever felt lonely during the holidays? Maybe it’s your first year without a loved one. Maybe your children aren’t at home anymore, or you’re struggling through a divorce.
‘Tis the season of glad tidings and good cheer, but for some people the holidays can be an especially trying time to hold onto peace.
Holding onto PEACE through such a hectic yet wonderful holiday season is a real challenge for many of us. Protecting our peace during the holidays and preventing anxiety and stress to overcome us is possible.
Here are a few ways that may help us stay in peace, and avoid the holiday blues.
Watch out for unrealistic expectations; over-commitment and fatigue can fray emotions. Travel complications and busy schedules can add to the stress as well. You might be spending your holidays away from your support system and normal routines which can make you feel more on edge or stressed.
But there are ways you can prepare for this challenging season and safeguard the greatest gift you’ve ever given yourself and those you love.
Negative thoughts influence our feelings and actions and can drive our emotional state into the ground. When we think of the times around the holidays that were not so happy we tend to go back to that place and assume it will be the same this year. Those deeply-held, and often repeated, pessimistic thoughts will lead to intense emotions and wayward actions. It is necessary to reflect on which thoughts are distorted and which are accurate. When we have been hurt those negative thoughts accompany painful memories. They are often irrational and exaggerated and can fuel the unhappiness making it difficult to let go of the memory. Once you recognize these thoughts for what they are, you try to re-frame the holiday into a positive experience. Be determined to have the best holiday ever. Don’t allow yourself to sink at the thought of reliving a bad experience again.
Oftentimes, we have difficulty recognizing our negative thoughts for what they are. As we grow in self-awareness, we are more able to recognize pessimistic and destructive thoughts as they come. Recognition of a negative and upsetting thought allows you to take it captive, and then approach it with a healthier outlook. It may mean that you and your family will do things differently this year.
Count your current blessings. Think about what you’re currently struggling with and identify the area of your life that it’s affecting. Next, think about all the other areas of your life where you’re not struggling. We can think about good health and a home life. Reflect on all the things that are going right.
For example, we might visualize our dining room at Thanksgiving or living room on Christmas Eve. You might visualize the tree glistening with lights and meaningful ornaments; the fire crackling; the smell of fresh cookies and hot chocolate, and the sound of your children’s laughter. Let that goodness seep into you, and carry it with you and continue on with your day.
When you’re going through a difficult time, it’s important to embrace your feelings. Embrace your pain, don’t ignore hurt, confusion, anger, and fear. Then adjust your perspective. Because even in the midst of the worst kinds of loss, there can be love and even laughter. And for that we can be grateful.
I hope all of you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.
10 Ways to Sidestep Holiday Stress:
From Thanksgiving until Super Bowl Sunday, the holidays create more opportunities for anxiety to get a foothold than a tile roof makes for Santa’s reindeer. Here are 10 ideas to help you keep your own steady footing during the upcoming season.
1. Take good care of yourself. Do those things that nurture you. Eat healthfully; get plenty of rest, exercise and set aside time for you..
2. Make lists and set aside specific times to accomplish certain tasks. Prioritize. Consider scratching a few items off your list.
3. Ask for help. It’s more fun to do things together—from decorating the house to wrapping presents.
4. Make a budget and stick to it. Let this be the year that you don’t go into debt buying presents.
5. Shop on- line and by catalog. Give gift certificates. Look for ways to make gift giving easier.
6. Share daycare arrangements with friends and neighbors when the kids are out of school.
7. Remember to play. Have fun. Share special time with the children or other family members.
8. Make your house-guests as self-sufficient as possible. Let them help. Don’t give up your own bed unless you must.
9. Consider alternatives to family gatherings if they cause tension and anxiety. Plan well in advance and avoid last-minute surprises.
10. Go on a walk. Breathe in the fresh air. Find a place to be quiet and restful. Go there as often as you need.