As much as I adore the beauty and majesty of the holiday season, I realize that this can be a terribly difficult time for others. In the midst of the glowing lights and cheerful dispositions, the holidays can also stress you out, remind you of experiences you’ve worked so hard to forget, make you feel alone and forgotten, and even force you to reflect on mistakes you’ve made and people you’ve lost or had to leave behind. It can make you feel more down than up, and when you’re surrounded by or exposed to the warmth, coziness, and love associated with the holidays, it oftentimes makes you feel worst. So, how can you survive this holiday season? Following these four b’s is a start, but it’s not the end. Keep working, keep fighting, keep being…
Be honest with yourself. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling, and don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t bury these feelings, express them (consider journaling). Whatever you do, remember you don’t have to be someone you’re not.
Be patient with yourself and others. Take your time and live in the present moment. Live in (and accept) the imperfect reality, not the perfect ideal.
Be proactive. Create a plan for dealing with potential holiday triggers, schedule time for the people you care about most, and stick to a normal routine.
Be good to yourself. If you want to be surrounded by loved ones, do it. If you want to be alone, do it. Instead of over-indulging or self-medicating, tend to your needs and find ways to relax in a productive and positive way: pamper yourself, exercise, listen to music, read a great book, do things you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to say no or ask for help.
Sometimes we get so caught up in what society tells us we should do and how we should feel during this time, we lose ourselves and we lose sight of what this season is really about. Sure, Christmahanakwanzika is a pretty awesome excuse for receiving gifts, but the greatest gifts of all don’t come wrapped in fancy, decorative paper. The greatest gifts are in your heart: faith, hope, and love. Sending you faith, hope, and tons of love so you don’t merely survive this holiday season, you thrive!