Holiday season is upon us! For some of you that means excitement, joy, and fun. You are full of happy anticipation, even though you know that they can bring stress, it’s all for a good cause.
For others of you, it is just the opposite. The holidays stress you out to the point of exhaustion. There’s too much to get done in a short period of time. Family gatherings can be difficult to bear. Money is tight. You see all the beautiful holiday displays and commercials, social media-worthy meals, seemingly perfect families enjoying themselves, but you can’t measure up and don’t find joy in this season at all. In fact quite the opposite, you find yourself filled with dread, stress, exhaustion, and end the year feeling defeated and depleted.
Where is the joy for that large percentage of you that identify with this latter group? Is it even possible to make it through the holiday season well when you are so overwhelmed? Or grieving? Or financially strapped? And if so, how do you get to that place?
Circumstance and perception
There are many different circumstances in which you find yourself during this season. For many, life in general is hard to navigate right now and the holidays just add to the stress you are already feeling. While you exist inside of these circumstances of life, there is a secondary process happening, which is your internal world and the ways in which you perceive our circumstances.
This can include how you think about yourself, how you think about others, how you think about your particular situation. You can begin to recognize that you have thoughts about your circumstances and from there, you can determine if those thoughts are accurate and helpful, and what other ways of thinking might be available to you? When you start recognizing your internal dialogue, you can develop ways of increasing your power in that internal world and increase your ability to handle all of the holiday season stresses.
Recognizing thoughts about your situation doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Sometimes it’s useful to ask for and receive external feedback from someone who tends to be open and accepting of different ways of thinking, but that will also be honest about their own perceptions of your thoughts. They can reflect back to you about if the thought sounds negative. Or if it’s an overgeneralization, or even whether or not the thought is true.
Once you’ve nailed down some of the thoughts that seem to be unhelpful for you, you can then start exploring other options. “If I don’t have this project on my house finished before Christmas, everything will be ruined” can turn into “It will bother me if I don’t get this project finished, but no one else will be bothered by it.”
There is power in your thoughts and you can use them in intentional ways to set yourself up for a different experience. Sometimes you find ourselves expecting the worst and so stressed out about these terrible scenarios you play out in your head. What happens when you ask yourself, “What if those things don’t happen?” “Is anything other than the ‘worst case scenario’ possible?”
Others of you may feel so sad about going into the holidays without a loved one you lost that the sadness or grief is defining everything and it’s hard to find ways to engage in the holidays at all without your loved one. All of the emotions you feel around this time of year are very real. And emotions can influence your perception of circumstances and therefore are worth taking the time to examine, interact with, and address in ways that allow you to bring some intentionality back to your experience.
Build on your ways of knowing
As you gain more awareness of, or understanding of the interaction of your internal and external worlds, so many other opportunities open to you to explore. You can keep building on the intentional process of doing the work with your internal dialogue; you can look at past experiences and how those influence your thoughts and beliefs.
You may become aware of how prior trauma, loss, hardships, wounds, cultural influences have all played a role in the ways you perceive and think. And you can take intentional steps to address what you recognize as part of the struggle. This may or may not include therapy, but therapy is certainly a useful space for many of you to do that exploration.
Use other resources
Whether you find yourself ready to celebrate or ready to break down at the thought of this holiday season, there is a path for you to find relief. If you aren’t sure what next steps you’d like to take, Catalyss Counseling is offering a Holiday Stress Relief Workshop to discuss concepts of intentionality more in-depth and give you tools to build on your ways of knowing. While you may not find a perfect holiday experience, strategies and help to address what you need are available for you to find joy.
How We Can Help
We are currently enrolling for our Holiday stress relief workshop
For adults to purposefully plan for stressful times of the year, so you can enjoy precious time with yourself and your family.
If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation
Begin your journey towards a calmer, more relaxed life
Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Alicia Kwande is a psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, and blogger. Alicia helps adults (especially mothers and caregivers) who give all they have to others, leaving themselves with next to nothing. Alicia assists adults in managing their anxiety, depression, work-life balance, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.