The holidays are full of expectations for everyone. We are expected to have a wonderful holiday with all of our family and friends. Usually this includes participating in many extra social activities, giving gifts and intense family interactions. Our internal expectations might tell us that we should be happy and enjoy everyone's company, or something is wrong with me that I'm not enjoying this.
What we don't stop to think about is the holiday activities we have are in addition to all of our normal daily activities. Our life doesn't stop for the holidays. We still have to work, or go to school, pay our bills and feed the dog. Usually, people end up feeling stressed and overextended. They cope by going into overdrive to do everything. But what if you did it differently this year? Instead of feeling overwhelmed, if you took some time to stop and be quiet and listen. Why not ask yourself what is most important to you this holiday? What would you like to see happen this holiday?
Maybe one of your goals is to take care of yourself this holiday. Then build in time for yourself to rest and take care of yourself. This may mean making arrangements with a friend to call each other if family gatherings get to be too much. Let them know ahead of time what your concerns and needs are and how they can best support you. Or maybe there is someone who has been supportive of you this last year that you want to acknowledge? What are meaningful ways you could connect with the important people in your life? Could you write them a note? Make a phone call to let them know how important they are to you? Or just think about what you would like to say to them. Maybe doing acts of service is something you'd like to try this year. How about making a list of all of the things you have to be grateful for this year?
Whatever you choose to do, make it about you and what your vision is for the holidays and not what others tell you it “should” be like.
Maureen McNichols Ed. S, LCPC is an intern at the Awakening Center and a co facilitator of the Tuesday night Eating Disorder Support group. She can be reached at (773) 929-6262 x.12