December is a particularly difficult time of year for most people that can bring up feelings of overwhelm, loneliness, depression, guilt and loss just to name a few. Many people try to put on a happy, smiley face at this time of year and rarely ever express or acknowledge the true feelings hidden underneath all the sparkling lights, mistletoe and presents. It’s a time of year that can be magical for children, but at the same time, adults also seem to be longing for that feeling of wonderment, joy and family connection that we so often see in the movies. Unfortunately, for many of us, however, the reality never seems to live up to the fantasy and so we’re left wondering why our holidays are not what everyone else’s appears to have.
So what can you do?
Experiencing difficult emotions during the holidays doesn’t have to overwhelm you or ruin this time of year, and there are several ways to use this time to release old emotions and turn them into something productive that inspires you and maybe even other people.
1) Acknowledge how you’re feeling
Trying to push down or ignore our emotions never works, and in fact, only makes them stronger over time. By taking the time to just acknowledge and honor how you’re really feeling at this time of year, can give some relief. In addition, once you’ve acknowledged how you’re feeling, see if you can understand where the emotions are coming from to then create a plan of action to releasing them. If this process should become too difficult, a therapist can be very helpful for this as well.
2) Reflect, List and Commit
Use this as a time to reflect on the year that has passed and to think about what changes you want to make or goals you have for next year. Make a list of things you want to do, places you want to visit or personal goals you have that you are dedicated to working on. In other words, use your emotions to motivate what you WANT rather than focusing on what you don’t have. And most importantly, make a commitment to yourself to follow through on your list. Keep it somewhere you can refer to it regularly and have a plan of action for reaching each goal. If you don’t know where to start, a therapist or coach can be wonderful for this.
3) Reach out
It can feel particularly lonely at this time of year for many people, so rather than isolating further which only feeds into this emotion, reach out to new people. Whether it’s through a hobby you enjoy, connecting with your church or other spiritual group or reaching out to people you’ve lost contact with, this is an excellent time to create or re-establish relationships.
We all know that giving our time and presence to others in need is very rewarding and inspiring and lifts our spirits in ways that nothing else can. Just the simple act of visiting someone who might not be able to leave their home, or helping to feed the homeless or working at your local animal shelter, can completely shift your emotions, energy and thoughts to a positive state. And by doing this, you have the added bonus of making new connections with people and possibly making new friends.
5) Create Your Own Traditions
Some of us may have lost a loved one at this time of year, ended a relationship, be on our own or in a new place far from the people we are connected to and so it can be hard and sometimes unrealistic to relive holiday traditions from our past. This is a good time to think about what new holiday traditions you would like to create for yourself at this time in your life. Traditions are very powerful and bring a sense of continuity to our lives, and there’s no reason that they can’t change and evolve over time as well. So I encourage you to think about how you can make your own holiday feel special whether it be that you decide to visit a new country for the holidays, or you cook a special meal that you love, or you go for a hike and have a picnic… whatever you choose will be yours.
6) Create a ceremony to acknowledge loved ones
Similar to #5, if you have lost a loved one at this time of year or are facing your first holiday without someone you’re used to sharing it with, this can be a great time to create your own way of acknowledging their importance in your life and to send them your love. Just because someone is no longer physically with you, doesn’t mean you still can’t acknowledge them or the impact they had in your life. A ceremony or ritual to acknowledge the person can be done in any way that you wish and is an opportunity for you to be as expressive as you want. Before creating the ceremony or ritual however, just ask yourself if you’re emotionally ready to do it since a recent loss can still very painful and may need some more time to heal before doing this kind of exercise.
7) Get out in nature
Mother nature is one of our most powerful healing energies and is wonderful to be surrounded by when we’re feeling down or are going through a difficult time. Whether you consider yourself to be the ‘outdoorsy type’ or not, sitting at a park, going for a hike, taking a walk on the beach or just sitting under a tree are all great ways to connect with nature and lift your mood.
So these are just a few ways to handle different emotions that can come up at this time of year. The most important thing is to remember that you’re not alone in feeling sad, alone or overwhelmed and that you can use these emotions to create a holiday season that is more authentic to you.
Tania Manczarek is a holistic swiss army knife. A trained therapist, intuitive energy worker, certified yoga instructor, massage practitioner and hypnotist, she focuses on healing through the mind/body/spirit connection and is passionate about helping people live an authentic and balanced life. Originally, from Los Angeles, she left to travel the world over 5 years ago to find her own path of healing and to follow her dreams. Now living in France, she offers individual wellness services by phone/Skype, events and retreats in France and abroad.