How are you moving through the holiday season this year? Is this a happy, exciting time for you? An over-scheduled frenetic and pressured time? A sad, melancholy time? A time of joy or a time of dread? A time for contemplation and reflection? Or perhaps, if you are like most of us, a combination of all of the above?
Being in the thick of the holiday season, thoughts, plans, and emotions are swirling around for most people. The mental picture includes family, friends, wonderful food, special music, celebrations, and spirituality. A rush of excitement builds in the air! It can be an expectant, exhilarating time of year.
For many though, it can also be a time of profound sadness, depression, anxiety and even grief,. All experiences around the holidays do not look like the Norman Rockwell pictures, Courier and Ives scenes or television commercials. Memories of loved ones who are no longer here or perhaps remembrances of not-so-good holidays may be at the forefront in the minds and hearts of many. As counselors and coaches, we work with numerous people who are feeling depressed, anxious or a bit melancholy. This season can unwittingly highlight what is wrong or missing in a person’s life and leave them feeling unsettled and discontent. If you are experiencing these symptoms, know that it is both personal and universal…many people experience a broad range of emotions during this season. We want to encourage you to make room for all that arises. Honor and allow for the myriad of emotions that may be coming up for you. Give yourself some time and space to experience it all, and remember to be compassionate and gentle with yourself.
Below are some integrative health and wellness tips for good physical and mental health during the holidays:
- Pace yourself in terms of the amount of time and energy you devote to festivities.
- Maintain your exercise and fitness program. Remember that daily exercise helps not only with weight control and muscle mass, but also mood.
- Set boundaries with difficult family members or events as firmly and respectfully as you can. Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and your choices. Establish realistic expectations for yourself and others.
- Know that this time of year is organically a time for contemplation. Spend some time going inward and connecting more deeply with yourself.
- Be aware of alcohol intake. Alcohol in moderation (for non-problem drinkers) can be relaxing and in some cases healthful. Keep in mind, though, that alcohol by definition is a depressant. There is usually a point during alcohol consumption where the rebound will be feelings of depression and/or anxiety.
- Utilize calming, balancing practices – We enjoy yoga and meditation.
- Write your feelings, memories, and experiences down in a journal, moving the energy out of the biology.
- Practice mindfulness while driving during this season. Other drivers may be distracted with their cell phones, drunk, or otherwise not paying attention. Statistics show that accidents increase sharply during this time period.
- Have mercy on yourself as you reflect on 2012. Focus on what you did accomplish and where you made positive gains, and,
- Envision 2013 as affirmatively yet realistically as you are able. What did you learn in 2012, and how would you like to systematically build on that in 2013?
- If you are feeling down or anxious, ask for help. There’s no need to go it alone. Contact a counselor or life coach. In the absence of that, talk to a trusted friend.
Wishing you peaceful holidays and a wonderful new year! Be well.
“Feel good today. Live better tomorrow.” TM
Angela Buttimer, MS, RYT, LPC and Dennis Buttimer, MEd, CEAP, RYT are local counselors and coaches in metro-Atlanta, specializing in integrative health and wellness. They are also registered yoga and meditation teachers. They published their first book and guided meditations CD last year, CALM: Choosing to Live Mindfully. For more information, visit their integrative health and wellness blog at www.allthingsintegrative.com or their website at www.buttimer-associates.com