Redesigning Your Holiday Feelings

Have a positive experience during a potentially difficult time

Have a Great Holiday!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We'll be thinking of you this year!


S

ometimes those words can feel like a sharp sword in your soul even when their intent is to give us joy. When you’ve experienced a loss or significant change in your life, holiday expectations can bring stress, anxiety and significant sadness. In order to have a positive experience during a potentially difficult time, it is important to understand what is normal and even to take practical steps to redesign feelings and to consider establishing new traditions to meet your emotional needs during the holiday season. Here are a few tips from Barbara Miklos:

Plan Ahead

To the best of your ability, plan ahead for the holiday activities in which you need and/or want to participate. This alleviates anxiety and reduces stress. This planning should include, preparation i.e. shopping, holiday schedule, time with others, time for self. Do your best to communicate clearly about plans with friends, family, children and ex-spouses if applicable. If necessary, put things in writing so there are no misinterpretations.

Review Your Sleep Patterns

Studies show that most Americans are sleep deprived due to the lack of and quality of their sleep as a result of stress, anxiety, depression and unidentified sleep disorders. If you consistently have trouble falling asleep, have interrupted sleep, early waking or feel un refreshed in the morning, check it out with your doctor. Improper sleep will make it more difficult for you to deal with the positive and negative stressors of the holiday season.

Accept Change as the Only Constant in Life

Understanding and accepting the fact that “things change” in life will help to prepare you for the normal stress that occurs with any change. Be aware of the fact that the level of stress you experience is directly related to the degree of change, positive or negative, how recent the change is, and how it impacts your life. Recognize the process of “loss and renewal” experienced during the holiday season. If needed give yourself permission for some "grieving time" for remembrance and honor.

Get Problems Up & Out

Much of the negative stress we experience during the holidays is self-created through repression...pushing frustrations, and other negative feelings down inside and letting them fester. Studies show that 85% of the things we worry about either never happen or we have no control over them. Talk about things with a trusting person or a professional. The holidays are often a good time to go in for a “seasonal tune-up.” We all need confirmation that our feelings are normal and a “reality check” about the best way to get some enjoyment from our holiday experiences. This also helps to distinguish between “holiday blues” and depression.

Make a Holiday “Paradigm Shift”

Much of the negative stress we experience during the holidays is self-created through repression...pushing frustrations, and other negative feelings down inside and letting them fester. Studies show that 85% of the things we worry about either never happen or we have no control over them. Talk about things with a trusting person or a professional. The holidays are often a good time to go in for a “seasonal tune-up.” We all need confirmation that our feelings are normal and a “reality check” about the best way to get some enjoyment from our holiday experiences. This also helps to distinguish between “holiday blues” and depression.

Observe, Correct and Maintain Realistic Thinking

Holidays that are “picture perfect” are usually not reality. Remember the reasons for these holiday celebrations and focus on the experiences in the present, letting go of the negative parts of the past, looking forward to the journey of life you still have ahead of you.

“As a Man or Woman Thinks, So Shall they Be.” A very old but true statement. Our thoughts are powerful tools for the direction and control we have over our daily lives. A very simple formula developed by Elbert Ellis will help with this process: A + B = C. Often, we do not have control over the activating event...we always have control over our beliefs which have a direct effect on the conclusion.*

Activating Event + Belief = Consequence (Emotion...Behavior)

Dispute negative beliefs

  • Don't jump from A - Z
  • Find some good in a negative situation
  • Control your inner dialogue
  • Avoid the blame game
  • Shift your focus forward to move towards positive solutions

* If you cannot change the way you think and this lasts for more than 2 weeks, seek help.

Maintain a Sense of Humor & Fun

Maintaining humor and fun are primary strategies for redesigning your holiday feelings. The ability to laugh at yourself and find humor in situations, releases negative stress physically and emotionally. Just as planning is important, spontaneity is also important at holidays and any time. Call someone on the “spur of the moment” to do something just for fun. Don’t forget, “Laughter is the sun that drives humor from the face of winter.” (Victor Hugo)

Give & Receive Encouragement

Words and actions are powerful tools which can contribute to both negative and positive environments especially during the holidays. Take a “holiday from negative, lazy, “four letter” words and replace them with positive words and actions of encouragement. Receive and give support and give the gift of a sincere compliment to someone who has completed a task well done. Remember, “Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.”

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See the Tools & Tips page for a listing of all of Barbara's Tips articles.