Everywhere we turn, there's a reminder that the holiday season is on its way. It's inescapable. And for many of us, it's an exciting, joyful time. But for just as many of us, it can be a difficult or painful time. And in some cases it can be both. And that's totally ok. We are allowed to embrace the excitement and joy of life while at the same time acknowledging difficult and painful feelings. I was asked to contribute to this piece on Substack by The Midst, offering tips for coping with trauma or loss during the holidays. Click here to read the full article, or read on to learn what I had to say.
Allow yourself to explore and accept your feelings
This might sound simple, but in fact it can be tempting to deny or suppress our feelings. But the truth is that if we don’t explore our feelings, they don’t disappear. They have the potential to fester, and come out in different ways – in feelings of anxiety, grief, panic, anger, overwhelm or numbness. Find a way that works for you – it might be in conversation with a trusted friend, in therapy, or through journaling or another creative outlet.
Consider whether you feel a need to show the world that you're feeling ‘fine’
Maybe it feels like it’s not acceptable for you to be open and honest with the world around you. Consider why you feel this way. It’s true that certain settings (for example, the workplace) aren’t always appropriate places for us to lay our feelings bare. But it might also be that you want to portray yourself in a certain way, all the time. That you don’t want to appear vulnerable. This offers an opportunity for you to re-evaluate how you feel about being open and honest with other people. It might feel scary, but it can also offer a chance to build stronger, deeper connections.
Avoid the rabbit hole of self-blame
When we have been through a challenging situation, it’s helpful to look back and reflect on our behaviour. But it’s easy for this to become a cycle of self-criticism. Make sure that you are focused on what happened in the situation, rather than building an indictment of who you are as a person. This helps to keep your own self-esteem intact.
Perhaps you wish that you had done something differently. Acknowledge that you feel regretful or frustrated. But that it doesn’t make you a bad person.
Perhaps you feel angry about someone else’s behaviour. Acknowledge that you feel angry and hurt. But avoid turning the anger in on yourself. It’s not your fault, and you didn’t deserve to be treated that way.
Embrace your team
You might feel as if you want to hide away. But when times are tough, we really need connection. Our support network, our ‘hype friends’, the people who are always on our team. Challenge yourself to reach out and communicate with them.
Be proactive about self-care
Remind yourself of the habits and activities that boost your mood and energy, and actively schedule them into your life.
Keen to explore more?
I love working with people to help them to understand themselves.