Eight ways to emotionally prepare for the holidays

Eight-ways-to-emotionally-prepare-for-the-holidays

As we head towards the holiday season, stress starts to build about all the obligations we have to fill. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Bodhi Day, Yule, Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapati, Christmas or the New Year, it seems like there is an endless list of events, and family and friends to see.

So how do you survive the season without completely burning out and burning bridges? Being emotionally prepared is the best way to tackle this time of year head on. It means that no matter what you face (or who), you can stay grounded, care for your health and actually enjoy the season.

Here are eight ways you can emotionally prepare for the holidays.

  1. Plan everything out

Take out a diary or calendar before December, and write in every event you have coming up. Note down work parties, family events, the date family flies in and out, the nights people are coming over for dinner, and the days you have time to go shopping for food and gifts.

  1. Decorate early

If your holiday celebrations generally include decorating the house, start early while you still have time. Make it a family activity, and you’ll have a great time while also easing the burden of having to make the holidays picture-perfect when you have a million other things to do.

  1. Get over your FOMO

It seems like there is something happening every day in December, but if you want to have a healthy and enjoyable holiday season, you need to get over your FOMO (fear of missing out). You can’t do everything, and you shouldn’t. Make a list of all your activities, and mark down what you have to go to, what you want to attend, and what can be missed.

  1. Pre-plan difficult conversations

Aunty Edna and cousin Jack have differing political opinions, and your mother in-law starts to cry anytime conflict comes to the fore. It would be lovely to avoid these conflicts, but we know that is nearly impossible. Instead, pre plan what you will say to ease the tension if a contentious topic comes up.

  1. Get a wing man or woman

Parties and celebrations are always easier when you have someone to bail you out of awkward and stressful situations. Whether it’s a work party, a family dinner or casual BBQ, ask your partner, colleague, friend or another family member to step in on your conversation, or whisk you away for an ‘emergency’.

  1. Make time to veg out

It’s impossible to go full throttle all through December, so give yourself permission to chill and zone out when needed. Watch your favourite TV show, exercise, meditate or read a book. Your mind and body need to disengage from the stress, so give them time to do so.

  1. Stop feeling guilty

There’s so much to feel guilty about over the holidays. You don’t invite the right people to the party, you accidentally offend a parent, and you consume a year’s worth of junk food in a matter of days. You need to consciously put a stop to your guilt every time it comes up. Try using self-talk like, “I don’t have to be perfect,” “I am a good person,” and “My worth is not determined by the food I eat.”

  1. See a counsellor

The holiday season allows a lot of our deeper issues to rise to the surface. Isolation, depression, family trauma and stress all rear their heads this time of year, and that’s okay. Take the opportunity to speak to a counsellor or confidant as the season begins so you can emotionally prepare for the month ahead.

Does the holiday season stress you out? Are you anxious about seeing family or friends over December? Here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book on our online diary.

When the holidays aren’t the happiest time of the year

when-the-holidays-are-not-the-happiest-time-of-the-year

During the holidays, there’s an overwhelming sense that we should be happy. Christmas carols are sung, decorations are put up, family and friends reunite and people swap gifts. All of these activities can be wonderful, joyous things. But for many of us, they’re not—and that’s okay.

There are lots of reasons the holidays can be difficult, notably the fact that it feels like everyone expects you to be ‘happy’ and have the Christmas spirit.  But if we’re honest, that’s not always possible.

The holidays are a time when grief comes to the forefront. If we have lost a loved one, recently or in years past, we remember them all the more clearly when they’re not celebrating with us.

If a relationship has broken down with our spouse or significant other, Christmas can be an awkward time. We feel lonely, and disappointed that our life isn’t going the way we planned. If the relationship has affected children or extended family, this becomes even more paramount, as they try to maintain a congenial relationship with both parties.

Having to see an ex over the holidays, or feeling like you must ‘share’ your family with them makes the season fraught with tension.

If a loved one is experiencing a debilitating illness like dementia, depression or chronic fatigue, the need to care for them can take over any festive spirit we have. We wrestle with anxiety, frustration and anger, desperately trying to give them a wonderful Christmas experience at the expense of our own.

Or if we are ill, we are simply unable to join in the celebrations or enjoy them in any capacity. Whether we’re stuck at home, are in hospital, or are consumed by thoughts or feelings of anxiety, we feel isolated and lonely.

Throw in elements such as distance, monetary stress, estranged relationships with the family, trauma and work pressure, and this season can fall well short of the ‘happiest time of the year’ everyone boasts about.

So where does this leave those of us who don’t feel festive, but are expected to celebrate anyway?

It’s important you know it’s okay to feel broken this season. If you feel pressure to ‘get over it’ and your loved ones don’t understand your struggle, you don’t have to justify it to them. Recognise that your experience is just as valid as the friend who sings Christmas carols at the top of their lungs. Accept that your holiday season looks different to theirs, and know it’s okay.

When we accept our own brokenness and pain, we are able to work through it.

If you are grieving, use the holidays as a tribute to a loved one you miss. Visit their grave, or do their favourite activity in remembrance of them.

If you are heartbroken, allow yourself to cry, and then feel the love of your friends and family.

If your loved one is ill, give yourself permission to rest for a moment before you continue caring for them.

If conflict arises and there is no easy resolution, table the issue and give yourself permission to tackle it in the new year.

If you are alone, volunteer, attend a local church service, or a find a community group to belong to for the day.

If you are sick, love your mind and your body for what it does bring to Christmas Day—you. And despite the confines illness puts you in, give yourself permission to smile if you feel like it.

If the holidays are difficult time for you, tell a friend why. You don’t have to explain your feelings to the whole family or friendship group, but by opening up to a person you trust—someone who is empathetic and understands—you will find strength to get through the season.

If you find yourself in a crisis during the day, call a 24/7 hotline (find a list of international hotlines here).

It is okay to feel broken this holiday season, so be gracious with yourself. You can survive this Christmas, and you will.

Are you dreading the holidays? Do you want to begin the new year afresh? Here’s what you need to do: Contact us on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.

10 Tips To Slow Down Your Drinking and Enjoy The Seasonal Celebrations

With Christmas and New Year celebrations upon us it is a good time to give thought to your drinking behaviour at party celebrations. Alcohol is a feature of a good majority of social occasions; it causes people to become relaxed and lower their inhibitions so that you can ‘let your hair down’ as it were. At the end of a long year, we are generally feeling a little tired, tense, disgruntled and ready to have a good time.

After the first couple of drinks you feel happy, more relaxed and have less concentration and slower reflexes. However it is early in the evening and parties generally go well into the night. The alcohol is on tap and your friends encourage you to have another drink.

This is the critical moment. You see, a few more drinks and your inhibitions are lowered, confidence heightens, you are less co-ordinated, speech begins to slur and your moods are more intense. You will feel intensely happy or conversely sad or even mad. Your judgement becomes increasingly impaired as you continue to drink throughout the night. People are happy and having funbut there can come a point where someone, maybe you, behaves inappropriately and out of character. That’s the effect alcohol has on us.

Disagreements become fights, sexual harassment is all too common, while physical and sexual assault is also a common feature of alcohol-fuelled parties. At best you can lose your licence as consequence of failing to organise alternate transport. At worst, you can find yourself charged for an action that you can’t even remember happening. If you think it couldn’t happen to you, I urge you to think again.

So at this year’s Christmas party, try some of these strategies to slow down your drinking:

  • Start with a soft drink
  • Use standard drinks
  • Drink slower
  • Eat before and while you are drinking
  • Avoid salty snacks
  • Avoid shouts
  • Don’t let people top up your drink
  • Pace yourself
  • Try the low alcohol alternative
  • Be assertive and say ‘no’

This info graphic from SOBER.com called Blood Alcohol Content outlines the changes that occur in you when you drink over an extended period of time. You will find the information sobering!

If you want to talk to someone about your drinking behaviour and/or would like support to change your behaviour, you can contact Colleen for a free 10 minute consultation on 0434 337245 or go to the online diary at full slate to make an appointment with Colleen in the New Year.