by Gladys Diaz
I have to admit that this is my favorite time of year! Although it doesn’t feel like winter at all in Florida, there are signs of the holidays everywhere you look (including lit up snowflakes, which is the closest we’ll get to snow here)!
I feel love and hope and joy in the air, and that fills my heart up so much!
As happy as this season makes me, I know that it can be a bitter-sweet and not-so-happy time for others for a variety of reasons.
Maybe you’re feeling a little more lonely than usual.
Perhaps you’re wondering why this year isn’t very different from this time last year.
Or maybe you’ve had a big life change — whether it’s a change in your career, home, lifestyle, health, or relationship.
Whatever the reason, if you’re feeling less than cheerful this season, here are a few things you can do that can help you shift your heart-and-mindset so that you can welcome a little love and cheer in.
Focus on gratitude. I know it sounds “simple,” or perhaps it feels impossible when you’re not feeling very happy with the way things are. However, gratitude is one of the most powerful tools for shifting your perspective and attitude so that you can shift the way you are feeling. This is because gratitude automatically has you focusing on what you do have, rather than on what you don’t have or what is missing. It puts you in a state of abundance, and, if you allow yourself to truly feel the feelings of gratefulness, you can experience a complete shift in, not only your feelings, but in the solutions and possibilities that are available to you, but impossible to see when you are not focused on all of the people, things, and situations around for which you can feel and express gratitude.
Accept invitations, even if you don’t feel like going out. One of the tricky things about the way our subconscious works is that, if we don’t bring awareness to something, it’s impossible to change it! So, even though you may be feeling lonely during this time, if you don’t bring awareness to the fact that you are not alone, that there are people around you — family, friends, people at work, those in your place of worship, or even in social groups you may or may not belong to — you can actually perpetuate the feeling of being alone by not looking for opportunities to meet and be with other people, declining invitations, and isolating yourself from others. So, make it a point to accept as many invitations as possible so that you can enjoy talking, dancing, and laughing, meeting and getting to know people.
Make a difference in someone else’s life. When we put our attention and energy on what we don’t have, what we wish was different, and what others have that we don’t, it can add to feelings of sadness and loneliness. One of the most effective ways to shift that energy is to turn our attention outside of ourselves and make a difference for others. This time of year can be difficult for those who are sick, homeless, unable to get presents for their family, and people who have far less to be thankful for. Spend some time doing charity work, or choose to be a “Silent Angel” and make an anonymous donation or random act of kindness that benefits someone else. There really can be as much joy in giving as in receiving!
Practice self-care and self-love. You may be running around planning and hosting events, getting presents for others, and attending several social gatherings. While many of these activities can be fun, they can also be exhausting! Make sure you are taking time each day to do something nice for yourself. Whether it’s reading a book; taking a nice, long bath; talking to a girlfriend, getting extra sleep, buying yourself a special gift, or booking a massage, it’s important that you take time to replenish, nurture and restore your mind, body, and spirit. It’s impossible to feel truly happy, peaceful and irresistible when you’re walking around like a depleted ball of nerves, so do yourself a favor and put caring for and loving yourself at the top of your list of priorities.
If you’re in a romantic relationship, there can be additional stressors to add to the ones I mentioned above. Dealing with multiple family obligations, as well as family dynamics; having expectations regarding what should happen, and trying to make everyone happy can take a toll on your relationship. Here are some things you can do to avoid arguments before they start and enjoy the holidays with your love.
Remember that your partner has wants and needs, too. If both you and your partner want to (or are expected to) spend time with your families, determining whose family will be visited, how much time will be spent with each family, and when and where visits will take place can potentially trigger arguments. Keep in mind that there is another person in the relationship with you and that he has his own feelings and desires relating to his family and how he would like to spend the holidays with them. Seek to create a way to honor both of your desires so that neither one of you has to “sacrifice” or “settle for” anything. Instead, the two of you can come together and create a win-win-win situation for your partner, your families, and you.
If a “hot-button” topic comes up, commit to communicating respectfully, no matter what. 99% of all arguments result from miscommunication. This includes both the speaking and listening that takes place during a conversation. To avoid having a conversation turn into an argument, make sure that you are clearly understanding what your partners is saying. You can do this by ensuring that you are actually hearing your partner. For example, if your partners has shared something and you’re unclear about what he meant, you can say, “I hear you saying ______. Am I hearing you correctly?” By saying this, you let your partner know that you heard him (which has him feel heard) and you are clarifying whether that is what he said, which helps ensure that the two of you are having the same conversation and will help you come to a faster resolution.
Make peace a priority. When it comes to holidays, one of the most stressful aspects of it can be dealing with, not only one, but two families. Unfortunately, family gatherings can be a breeding ground for conflict if there are unresolved issues from the past lingering in the space that is supposed to be filled with laughter and love. Unfortunately, these arguments can affect and spill over into your relationship if you’re not careful to avoid that. This is why it’s so important to make peace — with yourself, you partner, and those around you a priority. If people begin to argue or you feel yourself getting upset, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. There is no need to make a dramatic exit. Simply and respectfully excuse yourself as a way to create some distance between you and the drama so that you don’t get wrapped up in it. If, after some time it seems as if things aren’t getting any better, it’s probably best to leave, if possible, so that you are not drawn into the arguing, or worse, have an argument with your partner about it. You don’t have to “suffer” through the holidays to prove your love for your partner, his family or your own.
While the holidays cause sadness and stress, implement these simple and practical steps so that you can ensure that you avoid sadness, upset and regret and give yourself the gifts of love, peace, joy, and hope!
Wishing you a holiday season overflowing with all of these gifts and everything your heart desires!