The countdown is on. We have only 2 weeks until Thanksgiving, and 47 shopping days left until Christmas. I've seen Christmas decorations in stores for weeks now, and I'm starting to see all the tell-tale signs of the holiday season not just approaching, but being fully upon us: decorations in parking lots, holiday TV commercials, and a growing number of Pinterest posts of fabulous looking sweet treats and gift ideas.
People have a lot of different feelings about the holidays. Probably for most, there is a large variety of both positive and negative emotions surrounding this time. One of the interesting things I see concerning this "holiday season" is the way it tends to amplify and magnify our everyday emotions and life experiences. Those struggling with weight loss or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle through out the year feel a stronger temptation in the presence of so many seasonal treats (haha, can you see what I'm focused on this year?). Those who have experienced the loss of a love one or a significant relationship feel a deeper sense of loss or nostalgia at this time of the year. Some are anxiously awaiting the birth of a child, enjoying a new relationship, or are experiencing their first holiday in a new home, and seem to notice the magic of every "first" through the holidays. There is the potential for so much joy, but also so much pain as we all balance the highs and lows of life and everyday living during this special time.
So it seems like an important subject to talk about. I'm beginning a series of posts concerning Thriving Through the Holidays. I will examine different topics and give you tips on handling difficult family relationships, healthy communication, memorializing those you have lost, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and tips for stress-management and relaxation (because one can never have too many of those!)
Lesson #1: I want you to raise your expectation for this holiday season.
I don't like when people say they are just going to survive the holidays. I believe that our words have more power than we often give them credit for. I want you to focus on not just surviving, but thriving through this season. So many times in life, we get what we expect. And we all know the old adage that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. So lets start by not expecting the "normal" level of holiday stress! Who wants to be "normal" anyways? I want extraordinary! I want to thrive this year, and look back on this season as the best holiday season yet. Thats my expectation. What's yours?
Liz Fava, MS, LAPC is a Psychotherapist focused on Relationships and Trauma at TRU Integrative Health and Wellness. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit www.favacounseling.com.