Tim Butler

Counselor, Life Coach & Speaker

Holidays: Love 'em or Leave 'em?

Say what you want about the holiday season, but the reality is, the holidays are upon us, as happens every year. For some it is the happiest time of the year, but for many, it represents a time for emotional turmoil, frenzied schedules, and grand disillusionment. Pace and balance are two words in scarcity during these months. We tend to get caught up in the social momentum; throwing regard for personal stability out with the summer toys. We lose our sense of homeostasis when the holiday music begins (way too early for many), and find ourselves racing toward the grand and glorious finish line. However, as we learn every year, and unlearn by the time November rolls around again, on the other side of the finish line is a dark hole. Let down. Awkward silence. Dark days ahead. Ever wonder why January and February are the biggest months for mental health services? For many, the emotional crash leaves us gasping for breath in our innermost being, yearning for the joy and warmth that was promised just a few weeks back. What is the problem? What can be done about it?

Be Realistic. Put together a realistic plan that incorporates all the subtle nuances in your life this year. Remember, every year brings its own challenges and burdens. Ignoring the unique load on your shoulders this year, will be as effective as leaving the gravy on the stove top too long. The expectations of others are not necessarily a good guide for your holiday journey. Meeting—or exceeding—last year’s performance may be unrealistic for you and your family. Memories are made whether we plan or not. Set your sights on the plan of action that best suits all involved. Whether the plan is on paper (preferred) or stored in the already-crowded closets of your mind (overloaded), be realistic as to what you can do and what simply is not going to fit in. Then, keep your plan, to the best of your ability; making slight course corrections along the way. You will find you have more joy and peace.

Learn To Say No. Social pressures can mount exponentially during these emotional months. Being forced into spaces with not-so-loved ones can leave us wishing we were wearing a pager to allow us a graceful exit. To be sure, some familial encounters are necessary and important; grin and bear it. But, for other invites, a simple response is all that you need to effectively communicate…”No, it is just not going to work out this year. But thanks”. Weigh demands against your own reality before you agree.

Lastly, remember: this season will pass as it does every year. Try to maintain your emotional balance during the various demands on your time, schedule, and emotions.