Self Awareness

The Antidote for the Holiday Blues

By Suzanne E. Harrill

Plan Ahead for the Holidays! This attention-getter ad headline was recently in the newspaper for a travel agency. Instead of planning ahead for an exotic trip, my wish is to inspire you to plan ahead for your own well-being during the coming holiday season. This time of year is a mixed bag of fun, anticipation, and connectedness, as well as obligations, loneliness, and stress. Letís look at some of the ways we get led astray from our own inner peace and remember the antidote for the holiday blues is to continue our enlightened practices in order to have a great holiday.

Besides the obvious reasons for the holiday blues; such as, being away from family and friends, having too many obligatory get-togethers, being tempted into overeating and/or drinking, or spending too much money on gifts, we can also be our own worst enemy. How? Our hidden wishes, hopes, and dreams surface during the holiday season. Many images we take from observing others or from television and magazines. At times we may think, "Why canít I have that?" when we see advertisements showing lots of fulfilled, happy people with smiling, fun-loving families eating perfect meals, experiencing only good things. It is easy to set ourselves up for disappointment if we compare ourselves to the images that trigger our unmet needs and desires. Why not plan ahead this season and use a new strategy: one that is realistic about what can be expected at this time of year for your own personal lifeónot someone elseís.

If you have never felt connected in large family gatherings, why would you expect things to be different this time around? Unless you use your own creative powers to enhance your level of personal involvement and fulfillment, then things will not change and you may feel the old holiday blues every time the family gets together and there is a lack of emotional connecting. How might you get something new from a family gathering? You do add weight to the group reality, you know, with your input: your attitude, actions or non-actions, energy level, body language, and interest in others. What you give out influences what you get back in return. In other words, you have something to do with what happens to you when you interact with others. If you attend a family gathering and it is not to your liking, consider setting boundaries on how much time you will participate and choose to make your time meaningful while you are there.

Take a moment to picture your own situation if the above example is not one of your issues. Visualize what you wish were true during the holidays. If this does not come easily, sit and daydream or ponder a while so your hidden wishes, hopes, and dreams may surface. Once you receive ideas, words, or pictures of what you want to create, hold on to them as they are your goals. Instead of doing the old disappointment-dance in your mind because the outer reality does not currently match up, allow these visions to point you in the right direction. Take a small step forward this season to practice what you want to create.

If you want to experience more warmth and emotional connectedness at a family gathering or a neighborhood party, you might choose just one or two people to approach and get more involved with in a deeper conversation than usual. You may not be able to change the whole group or certain individuals with your new approach; however, some people will match you and co-create with you to experience something better. Think about it, you could not possibly be the only one in the group who wants something better. Consider making the decision to share more of yourself and listen more to what others are saying in order to steer the conversation past small-talk. Afterwards notice and appreciate small changes.

Before you enter a situation that you know will be stressful for you, think about how you might plan ahead to improve the coming experience? Why not set it as a top priority to practice self-care before you meet that situation. Take some alone time to help prepare yourself. Visualize yourself doing things differently. It is a good idea to think about your needs and what you can do to balance yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually ahead of time. If you meditate, journal-write, or go for a walk before a Thanksgiving gathering, for example, it will help you stay on track with your goals and not get as hassled with the outer group reality if it is not to your liking. Remind yourself often of your goals and take small steps to move towards them.

The next time you buy into the collective images of the holidays and find yourself hassled, consider doing your part differently. Allow unfulfilled hopes, unmet needs, and high expectations to help you realize your goals, but not set you up for disappointment. Take care of yourself, decide to use your creative power to do your part a little differently, and notice small changes that move you towards your goals.

Begin now to plan ahead for a new journey this holiday season. Happy Holidays!





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