It’s that time of year.
People start sharing their excitement for the holidays. Asking what you’re doing for the holidays. Talking about family traditions. Traveling to see family. Decorating. Posting pictures of family gatherings and celebrations. Blasting Mariah Carey… yea, you know the one.
It’s all flashy and shiny and wrapped in a bow. But what about the part no one really talks about?
The holidays can be hard.
Estranged relationships. Toxic family members. First (or fifteenth) holiday after a loved one has passed. Working and unable to travel to be with loved ones. Recent loss of a relationship. First holiday sober.
Seeing excitement in others can be an unwelcome reminder that holidays are a painful time for you. It can bring up feelings of loneliness. It’s okay to acknowledge this. It’s okay to create space for these feelings. It’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to cry.
Important: do this with someone safe. A trusted friend or family member, your therapist, your partner. You deserve to be heard. You are worthy of love and support.
Develop a short-term plan. Whether it’s distracting yourself at a family gathering by playing with the kids, skipping it altogether, volunteering to do the dishes so you don’t have to interact with a toxic family member, leaving before the heavy drinking begins, catching a meeting on the way home, planning extra quality time with someone who supports you, sweating it out at the gym, self-hypnosis... whatever has been working for you, have a plan to take care of yourself.
Long Game Talk: The thing is- it’s usually past pain surfacing during the holidays. Sure, what’s happening in the moment may be painful; however, our past pain amplifies the discomfort. We are rarely conscious of the impact past pain is having on the present moment and as a result we prolong suffering. If you’ve been contemplating finding a therapist or going back to therapy, give yourself that gift. There is no set timeline for therapy and it certainly isn’t something that’s close-ended.