Happy Holidays! – Or are they?

How to manage your mind to make sure your holidays don’t suck

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

So black Friday deals now start in October.

And Christmas decorations go up the day after Halloween.

Ya’all, the holiday bullet train has already left the station.

The last three months of the year are filled with images of smiling people surrounded by friends and family, throwing fake snow, enjoying everything the season brings (capitalism at its finest!). 

It’s billed as “the most wonderful time of the year”. 

But is it?

How are you truly feeling? 

Honestly, I have mixed emotions, every year I find myself caught between the joy of the season and seasonal depression. 

And this year is going to be especially difficult because it’s the first time I’ll be alone on Christmas day in 54 years.

Brief backstory…I lost my husband to MS a little over two years ago and my three children are grown and have started their own lives. I’m very happy for my kids, and super proud of all they have accomplished! I’m also in the process of reinventing my own life.

But I recently started binging any and all holiday baking shows – from cookies to pies, to ridiculous cake structures – which would seem normal given the time of year. And binging shows isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It’s why I’m binging shows that’s the issue.

I’m not watching consecutive hours of baking shows because I want something, like tasty recipes or inspiration. 

I’m binging tv shows because I don’t want something.

I don’t want to feel the sadness or loneliness that I’m afraid I will feel when I wake up alone on Christmas morning. 

Binging hours of holiday tv shows has become my way of “buffering”, or hiding from, that anticipated feeling of sad. (Plot twist, buffering still results in me feeling bad, I’m just feeling bad ahead of time but that’s a topic for a whole other blog).

Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation, that the holiday season isn’t the most wonderful time of the year? 

The good news is, if it’s not too early to start prepping for black Friday deals, it’s certainly not too early to start managing our minds and making sure we have the holiday experience that we want.

Here’s how…

Right now I’m trying to avoid feeling sad that my kids won’t be with me. 

My thought that’s generating the feeling of sadness is “I don’t want to be alone at Christmas”. 

If I chose to indulge in that sadness the actions I would take would include binging more tv shows and overindulging in coffee and Christmas cookies, which would make me feel more sorry for myself, which would make me feel sadder.

That’s definitely NOT how I want to spend Christmas day.

So let’s change the scenario:

The question I need to ask myself is – how do I WANT to feel when I wake up alone on Christmas day?

I want to feel connected. 

Connected to family, and friends, the joy of the season, the beautiful lights, and colorful presents.

So instead of focusing on the thought: “I don’t want to be alone on Christmas”, I could choose an intentional thought like: “I have family and friends whom I love, and who love me”.

In order for a thought to work we have to believe it, and I truly believe that thought.

Next, I can help myself feel connected by connecting. 

I can call my mom and dad, or I can drive to my sister’s house which is less than an hour away. I can schedule FaceTime with my kids. I can text them and tell them I love them and how much they mean to me (although I usually have to preface it with “I’m not drunk”, because I’m pretty sure that’s their first thought when I group text my feelings to them).

I can start a tradition of writing cards or letters to my friends and loved ones that I lost touch with throughout the year. 

More importantly, I can find ways to feel connected to myself.

That could look like putting presents under the tree for myself (let’s be honest, how many of us already do the “one for you, one for me” method of Christmas shopping?). I can even treat myself further by having the presents gift wrapped at the store because I hate wrapping presents and I suck at it.

I can also put on my favorite music, light my favorite candle, journal about what I’ve accomplished throughout the year, and maybe brainstorm about what I want my life to look like next year.

Connecting with myself might also look like spending Christmas night under a blanket, binging tv shows, and indulging in all the Christmas desserts. But it will be intentional, decided on ahead of time, and not the result of trying to hide from a negative emotion.

The bottom line is you get to decide how you want to feel this holiday season. 

Choose the thoughts you need to think in order to generate that feeling, then decide what actions you will take to ensure that your season is suck-proof.

We all have the option to choose our thoughts and feelings, instead of being at the effect of them. 

Discover What’s Possible.

And Happy Holidays everyone!

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