(by Paula Shaw, CADC, DCEP)
In much of the Western world, it’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…or so they say. Let’s face it, while the holidays do offer the opportunity for joyous family time, they are also exhausting and filled with gatherings that offer fertile soil for the revival of family drama, eating all the wrong foods, drinking too much alcohol and not getting enough sleep. And heaven help you if you have suffered some kind of loss and you are in emotional pain during this time of the year.
For many people, the first or second holiday season after a major loss is painful, dark and lonely. Whether the person in question has lost a relative to death, a spouse to divorce, their health or mobility, or even a job to retirement, the pain of loss is never more evident than when everyone around seems to be filled with joy and cheer. In truth, many holiday grievers put on a happy face to appear joyful and excited around holiday time, because it’s easier than telling people they’re in pain. These masked grievers might exist within your own family, or you might be one of them yourself. The truth is, there’s no reason to be a victim to the Holiday Blues. There is help available for you. There are tapping, breathing, meditating and so many other modalities that can do wonders to help us through the emotional rocky road.
I think it is important that we understand why the holidays are so tough for people in emotional pain so we can better assist those dealing with loss and overwhelm, and help ourselves as well.
- Holidays are all about happiness, and that is the last thing one feels in a challenging emotional state.
- They are all about good times with loved ones, and maybe they aren’t present.
- They are a trigger for memories of past joy.
- There is so much to do, it can cause an already exhausted person to feel overwhelmed. Holiday activities require a great deal of energy outlay.
So what do we do? Pull the covers over our heads until it is over? That might be tempting… but isolation doesn’t heal. Here, however are some things that do help:
Be Authentic. No brave soldiers allowed. Talk about your feelings with safe friends and family. When emotional moments come, don’t stifle them. Feel them, express them and let them pass. Remember, stuffing only works for the turkey!
Cut Back! Be aware of your comfort zone and honor it. Don’t “should on yourself”! Plan ahead. Sit yourself down and make a list of the holiday activities and how you can best handle them. Allow yourself to stay in low gear and be sure to give yourself quiet time every day! Journal, meditate, pray, whatever gives you peace. Your mantra should be, “Keep things simple.”
Explore and Establish New Options and Traditions. Be sure to plan ahead; don’t be alone or overwhelmed. Establish new traditions and activities. Don’t be afraid to honor the loved one, or the circumstance that has been lost. Don’t try to keep everything the same when nothing is the same now.
Try to keep your energy balanced and strong. This is very important when you are hurting, and especially at holiday time, which can be so demanding and exhausting. Actively focus on what you love about the holidays and just engage in those things. Consider establishing new holiday traditions. Don’t try to do everything the same way it was done when your loved one was still present or when life circumstances were different. Use energy psychology and other mind/body modalities to balance and heal you.
The real holiday meaning is found in your heart. Joy can come in taking time to reach out to others, to really listen to them and care about them. Even though there may be someone or something that is missing from your life this holiday season, there is still so much to focus your love and joy on, so much to be grateful for. Actively look for these things. It’s very therapeutic. Happy Holidays!
Paula Shaw, CADC, DCEP has been helping clients create rapid change through her proprietary method, Conscious Healing and Repatterning Therapy, for over 22 years. She is also a Reiki master and is trained in all of the major energy psychology modalities, including EFT, TAT, BSFF, Allergy Antidotes and Matrix Energetics. She has a private practice in Encinitas, CA where she serves as energy psychology counseling specialist with Dr. Andrea Cole at the Center for Age Management. Paula serves on ACEP’s board of directors. www.paulashaw.com
Photograph by Dreamer