According to the movies, songs, and social media the holidays are supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” Unfortunately and realistically, this isn’t always the case for everyone. The holidays can be a wonderful time of year spent with family and loved ones, however, sometimes it can be a reminder that your loved ones are no longer around, or that your life in general is not where you want it to be. People commonly experience stress, sadness and loss during this time.
I love getting together with all of my family and as thankful as I am to have them, I have to admit holidays sure have a way of putting an emphasis on my father’s passing. You could have the most incredible family, just like mine, but it will still never fill those empty memories that should be filled with the presence of my father. There is this perfect quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower that resonates so deeply within me, I can almost feel it in my bones. Stephen Chbosky writes, “I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.” I believe that quote relates to so many peoples’ situation at this time of year. Missing loved ones “sucks,” feeling stressed about money or plans “sucks,” and no matter how thankful we try to be for what we do have, sometimes for some people, the holidays just “suck.”
But the point of this post isn’t to go on and on about how badly the holidays are. We are here to acknowledge it is perfectly okay to not feel like it’s “the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s okay that your Christmas doesn’t look exactly like the movies. It’s okay that your holiday pie came out rather burnt and a little less Instagram worthy. It’s okay to let yourself feel all the holiday feels good and bad. Let yourself feel but don’t let yourself become consumed. The best is yet to come.
“The are far better things ahead than any we leave behind” – C.S. Lewis
The New Year! The perfect time to let go of the old and move onto the new. Let go of the things that didn’t go exactly as you wanted them to this year and get excited for what lies ahead. Set goals, and remember these three things when doing so.
Set Realistic Expectations
One of the things that can sometimes bum you out around the holidays is looking at your life and feeling like you didn’t accomplish all that you wished you would have. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you had been working towards or you didn’t lose all the weight you had set out to shed. When feeling this way it is SO important to look back at where you were when you first made these goals. Were these goals even realistic? Maybe you didn’t lose 40 pounds, but you lost 10. Maybe you didn’t get the big promotion, but maybe your boss has noticed all your hard work you’ve been putting in. You can never plan what is going to happen in a year, so make sure when you’re setting expectations for yourself that they are realistic and something you will be able to meet. The more you achieve the better you will feel and the more motivated you will be to keep going.
Mindfulness means the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. Remembering to practice mindfulness in the new year is something that could be extremely beneficial to yourself and those around you. Practicing mindfulness could mean acknowledging the stuff around you and your well-being. Being mindful that you are feeling stressed or sad allows you to think of healthy ways to treat that stress or sadness. Who knows, maybe you will finally realize how beneficial the yoga class up the street could be. When allowing yourself to acknowledge your inner thoughts you could see others that could be going through a tough time like you. Opening yourself up to thinking about helping them, which brings me to my next important topic.
Nothing makes yourself feel better quiet like helping others. Whether its an hour a week or an hour a month putting aside some time to volunteer and help out in any way possible is HUGE! It is rewarding to the people/places that need the help and to yourself. It could be something like helping your elderly neighbor carry in her groceries, or volunteering each week to feed the homeless. Whatever it is, putting a smile on someone else’s face is sure to put a smile on yours, and help you keep perspective of your problems.
The holidays are capable of bringing on a whole lot of emotions you might’ve never expected and that’s okay, allow yourself to feel these feelings. They are feelings not necessarily reality. Just whatever you do don’t forget you are here, you are alive, and you are in control. Take these feelings and turn them into action plans of success and feelings that you feel you have become content with; the wrestle with them is over. Those outcomes can really be the best circumstances for holiday woes and stress.
Written by: Alexandra Haggerty