BIG THANK YOU to guest writer, Todd Esterburg, LISW. Reach him directly at 216-224-9230 or by email at Esterburg@gmail.com!
The holiday season can be joyous, but it may come with an undercurrent of feelings that are hard to talk about and don’t fit with all the cheer. Sadness tends to create isolation… Don’t let it happen this year!
Ahhhh, the smell of roasted turkey or fresh pine, the sound of children laughing or Bing Crosby’s voice… it can all trigger memories – melancholy thoughts of lost loved ones or days gone by when the world was full of more promise and opportunity. Sad feelings that are rooted in our memories can also create feelings of anxiety.
Thoughts can create worry about the impending loss of friends or family.
Or, without realizing, we might cram everyone and everything into this “festive” season, just so we won’t miss out on anything!
Our thoughts of sadness and worry may inadvertently turn into irritation, anger or resentment and impact our current relationships.holidays
Do YOU identify with this? If so, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
There’s no turnkey solution to make sad feelings go away, but below are two approaches to tap into a deeper understanding of feelings, thoughts, and actions. Use these tactics to navigate the holiday season in a positive way:
#1 Know your triggers
Memory triggers can be anything – a piece of candy, a song, a tone of voice, a perfume or a color of clothing! They can immediately influence our emotional state, suddenly we’re lost from the present moment, as we’re reliving a memory.
To deal with negative triggers, options are: avoid them altogether, take a short break in another room, or focus on your breathing for 10 seconds.
Triggers are sometimes good, but when they’re not, it’s better to embrace them, label them, talk about them, and deal with them.
#2 Look for what you have learned
When memories make us sad and we’re missing loved ones, remember this: they’re still with us if we focus on how they helped us become the person we are!
Embracing tradition, cooking up old recipes, donating time to those in need, sending cards, and attending church services can be connections to beliefs and ways of doing things that were taught to us by those we loved deeply.
This sounds too simple, yet it is very powerful!
Our behaviors and beliefs are formed from what was shared or learned from others. Their impact never leaves us AND part of us remains in those we’ve impacted also!
No matter what feelings you experience this holiday season, acknowledge them, embrace the control you do have, and remember the reasons that you do what you do!
Questions to consider:
Have you found yourself going down that melancholy path before?
Are you cramming SO much into your holiday season that you’re finding yourself TOO BUSY to enjoy it?
If yes, have you ever identified what it’s really all about and why you do it?