I really didn't realize how close it really was until I started counting the days on my office wall calendar this morning. "Sixteen days until Thanksgiving?" I thought to myself in disbelief. I counted again. Maybe it was fifteen. I counted again. No, sixteen. "Oh jeez! That's not much time!" I said to myself. Once October hits, it feels to me like going down the hill of a giant roller-coaster for the rest of the year. Am I the only one? I bet I'm not.
One thing I have seen, year after year, is how difficult the holiday season can be for people. I expect that 2020 will be no different, unless perhaps it is even more difficult with the current pandemic added in. The holidays can be especially stressful due to all the extra demands people feel they must meet and the things that begins to swirl around in a person's thoughts this time of year. People often find themselves thinking about past holidays, lost loved ones and how things just aren't what they should be. They think about the weather changing and how that may impact their physical bodies. Sometimes people remember something bad that happened during a past holiday season that continues to sour the present. Some people worry about the future and how to make ends meet again this year and get everything done on time without being overwhelmed with debt. It is a lot of stress jammed into a very short amount of time. What I hope to accomplish in this "mini-series" of blogs is to help you identify some of the common pitfalls you may encounter and how to begin to prepare for them in the upcoming months. I hope to help you manage your thoughts and moods a bit more effectively so you can get through the holidays just a little better than you did last year.
As I started to research and prepare for this blog post, I learned some interested facts about several November celebrations around the world. I learned a little bit about The Day of the Dead, Bonfire Day, Día de la Tradición, Narrentag, Shichi-Go-San, Diwali and Saint Andrew's Day. As I read, I couldn't help but wonder if other cultures experience similar challenges during the holiday season. I wondered if there was the same potential for family conflict, over-indulgence, sedentary behavior, sleep disruptions, worry, "overdoing it," high expectations and stress in other cultures that I see people experience here in Ohio each year. I wondered if others experience the same sense of grief and sadness when they remember the long-gone holidays past. I have to imagine there are some significant similarities.
The good news is, the holidays can be very enjoyable if a person practices a few solid techniques to help better manage thoughts and feelings. Common techniques I teach are meditation, mindfulness, setting limits with others, practicing self-compassion and self-discipline, and reaching out for help when things get difficult. I will be getting into more detail in the next eight weekly blog posts about specific techniques, when to use them and how to make what I call a "Fire Safety Plan" for when things around the holidays get a little heated and you need ways to cool off. For now, think about your perceptions of the holiday season. Are there any particular challenges you personally face this year? What feelings arise when you think about November, December and January each year?
If you have any questions about my writing or if you would like to talk with me about scheduling an appointment, please feel free to call me at 330-451-6306 for your free 15 minute phone consultation. You may also send me a confidential email by going to the following webpage: https://email@example.com and entering in your message. You can also visit my website (if that's not where you are reading this) at http://recoveryworksllc.net for more information about me and the services I offer. If you are in crisis, please contact the Coleman Crisis Center in Canton, Ohio at 330-452-6000 for immediate help or the national crisis line at 1-800-275-TALK (8255). You can also text the Ohio Crisis Line by sending "4 hope" to 741-741 or go to the nearest emergency department for immediate assistance.
Until next week, take care of yourselves,