For many the holiday season is a time of joy and happiness. It is a time to spend time with family and friends and celebrate cherished beliefs. For others, it is anything but a time of happiness and joy. For many it is a time of sanders, depression and anxiety. It is something that they do not look forward to at all. There are many reasons that people do not like the holiday season. They have experienced a loss of a loved one either during the previous year or even several years prior and the lack of their presence still brings sadness and loss. Others has experienced their loss through divorce or an unwanted breakup. No matter the reason for the loss, watching everybody focus on being with and having fun with family and friends can be painful reminder of what has been lost.
Others may not have experienced loss, but are estranged from their family or their family is place of drama or contention which would rather be avoided at all costs. If they can't be avoided, this can bring a great sense of anxiety and unhappiness.
If you are experiencing any of these reasons, or other reasons you may not be looking forward to the holidays, I want to give you four tools and skills that can ease the emotional pain that you may experience this time of year. I am not suggesting that these ideas will make all your pain go away, but I do believe they will help ease your pain and get through this season better than if you do not practice them. They are:
Support: Having a healthy support system is crucial to getting through any rough time in life. Being alone can bring its own sense pain and suffering. I tell people "do not try to overcome your struggles alone!" Find someone that you trust that will listen to you with the intent to understand what you are going through and will validate your emotions.
Self-Care: Self-care is an important tool for individual happiness in general. It is even more important in times of emotional distress. Give yourself the gift of self-care this holiday season. Spend regular time doing something that you enjoy and can find personal happiness in doing. Unfortunately many people turn to unhealthy coping skills and call it self care. These unhealthy coping skills can be drinking, using substances or other unhealthy behaviors. These will only provide temporary relief and then the holiday blues will return.
Service: Giving service is known activity to help with depression and grief. When we spend time helping someone else who is in need, we can't help but feel better. There are many ways one can give service during the holiday season. This helps us not to think about the challenges in our own life and puts our attention and focus on helping others.
Gratitude: Thinking about what we are grateful for is a great way to not feel depressed. Like giving service, when we focus on what we are grateful for, it is almost impossible to feel down. Take time to make a list of all things you are grateful for and when you start to feel down take that list out and review it.
Sometimes the way to get the best information is to go straight to the source. I recently asked my teen daughters to ask some of their classes at school the question, "What can parents do to connect better with their teens?" They did just that and the following are their replies. I also asked several of my teenage clients the same question. I provided their unedited responses. I support and endorse each of these responses. Teens know what they want to connect with and have a relationship with their parents. The essential thing to know is that teens DO WANT a relationship with their parents. They long for it. Please take this list seriously and start to implement as much as you can with your own teen and I promise you will start to develop a better, more meaningful relationship with your teen!