'Tis The Season To Be
From Surviving to Thriving During
the Holidays--A Recipe for
Are you ready for
the holiday season? Be honest: what comes up for
you just thinking about it? Excitement? Dread?
Indifference? Or something else? Have you gotten
geared up for Halloween—time of the playful
trickster and letting your kid come out? Are you
looking forward to giving thanks and feeling
gratitude for Thanksgiving? Are you open to
sharing in the miracles of Christmas and
Hannukah—the giving and receiving of gifts with
loved ones? Can you hardly wait 'till New Years to
party and embrace the time of renewal? Probably
not, huh? Why is this?
experts know from experience that between the
months of November through January there is a
substantial increase in depression, anxiety,
family arguments, and domestic violence.
Addictions—alcohol, drugs, gambling, eating,
shopping, shoplifting, employee theft, TV,
Internet, video games—all rise during the holiday
season. Is it any wonder why January is the
busiest time of the year for divorce filings? 'Tis
the season to be jolly? Not for most.
Think back on last
year's holiday season. Can you remember it? Do you
remember any pitfalls or challenges? Is there a
pattern of discomfort or distress for you during
the holidays? If so, what? There are many theories
why the holidays seem so stressful. Here is a
short list of some explanations and ways to cope.
It's not too early to plan for a successful
holiday season--thriving, not just surviving!
disorder" may play a role. As the weather becomes
more frigid and the days of sun get shorter, many
feel less energy and compound this by becoming
less active, eating more, staying indoors more.
This becomes a vicious cycle.
If this applies to
you, GET ACTIVE! GET OUTSIDE or at least do
"(sun)light therapy." Make a physical regimen plan
NOW and stick to it. Join with others for support.
If possible, take a sauna or a hot tub to warm up.
In some more extreme cases, consult a physician or
nutritionist/herbalist for help.
Family: Love 'Em
or Hate 'Em
Many of us have
conflicted or tenuous relationships with certain
family members or other close relationships we may
feel "forced" to interact with during
the season. We may still harbor painful and
uncomfortable memories from holidays past. Some
may feel the grief and empty absence of family
members no longer around. And, of course, for many
single people or people without any close
relationships, the loneliness can be
Remember: You have
choices about how you want your holidays to go!
You have choices about who you want to be around,
where you want to be around them, for how long,
and under what circumstances—if any! While there
may certainly be "pressure" or "guilt" to gather,
I encourage people to create the holiday of their
dreams with the people you consider "family of
choice." Don't be a victim here! If there are
toxic people you know you need to avoid—give
yourself the gift of avoiding them.
Spend, Give, Have
especially during this time of national economic
challenge, the holidays seem less about
reflection, spending time with loved ones, and
appreciating their comforting and inspiring themes
than a frenzied "consumer fest." It's off to the
Mall to spend, spend, spend—often when we can
least afford it! Dealing with traffic, the crowds,
credit card debt! Not a pretty picture. Many feel
trapped and obligated to give—especially to
children or others who may have come to "expect
it." Some, on the other hand, feel the past or
future disappointment of not receiving what they
hope to receive—either materially or relationally.
Is it any wonder why shoplifting and employee
theft rise dramatically during this time?
documentary film "What Would Jesus Buy?" opens
nationally on November 9th
SLOW DOWN! Stay
focused on the true spirit of the holidays—fun,
wonder, relationships. If you are worried about
overshopping or overspending, create a budget and
stick to it. Give alternative gifts which keep you
away from the frenzy of the stores. Make gifts,
give gift certificates or gift cards, order gifts
online if you can do that safely, do favors for
people such as cleaning, cooking, fixing things,
offering a massage, taking them to a movie, etc.
BE CREATIVE! If you're worried people will be
disappointed, explain to them your circumstances
and motivations for departing from the usual. If
you want to receive gifts, treat yourself first
and also speak up and ask for what you want but be
prepared to hear no or to graciously receive an
It's not too
early to create a proactive action plan for
heading off potential arguments and addictions
which go hand in hand. When we argue we want to
use, zone out, escape—which only creates more
arguments as we disconnect and engage in addictive
behaviors which, in turn, lead to more
What is your
Achilles' heel during the holiday season? Food?
Alcohol? Drugs? Shopping? Shoplifting? TV? If you
aren't already in a recovery program, get into one
NOW! See a therapist, join a support group, start
reading recovery/spiritual literature, attend a
place of worship, meditate, do yoga, exercise,
embark upon fulfilling projects or hobbies. If
nothing changes, nothing changes. How are you
going to do your holidays different this year?
I encourage you
to write out an action plan for not just surviving
but thriving during the holidays. Here are some
tips that will all but guarantee some level of
People I Wish to Be Around
Budget (November -- January)
- Food - $
- Gifts - $
- Decorations - $
- Miscellaneous -
- Other -
Like To Give That Feel
Gifts I'd Like to Receive/Give to
Ways to Cope with My Achilles'
Holidays Mean to Me:
Good luck and
don't just survive the holidays, thrive during the