BY VIVIAN DITTMAR
’TIS THE SEASON to
be jolly, yet, more o;en
than not, we find ourselves in less than high
spirits when the holiday
season hits. Whether it’s
because old family tensions reach a boiling
point in the run-up to the all-important
event, or because the lack of daylight is getting
to us in the colder climates, it’s important to
realize we are not the only ones having a hard
time emotionally during this time of year. In
fact, many people are.
Here is what you can do to navigate the
emotional roller coaster through the holiday
season and still enjoy the ride.
Let go of your concept of how it should be.
;is is probably not what you want to hear, and
it can be hard to do, but it always works. One
check our own needs. ;e result can be that
we get trapped in ful;lling each other’s pre-
sumed expectations, with nobody getting
what they need or want in the end.
It can be tough to be honest about what
you ;nd when you take that space to breathe
and check in with yourself. However, if you
step up and speak out about what you need—
whether it is time alone, a massage, a pillow
;ght, a silly game or a hug—you give other
people permission to do the same.
Feel what you are feeling. One of the big
emotional holiday traps is that the pressure to
be happy is so high. It’s important to know that
with family members o;en traveling long distances to spend time together and expectations
running high, it is normal to experience less-than-happy-feelings during this time. ;is is
not a problem per se, but it soon becomes one
when we choose to suppress what we are feeling rather than allowing it to just exist.
;e holidays are about connecting with
ourselves and each other. Emotional honesty—
feeling what we are feeling and not covering it
with what we think we should be feeling—
o;en goes a long way in creating that intimacy
we long for. And the best part is, by allowing
ourselves to feel whatever it is we are feeling,
we soon discover that the joy we are looking
for is just around the corner.
Practice gratitude. At the end of the day,
it is not what we have or accomplish that
determines how happy we are, but rather
what we are grateful for. Yet, being stressed
and being grateful don’t go well together.
;at’s why it is important to slow down, especially during the holidays.
Practicing gratitude is not about talking
yourself into liking what you really don’t like. It
is about consciously appreciating the good
things in life. It’s about that ;rst moment in the
morning when you wake up and realize you
have a warm, cozy, comfortable and safe place
to sleep in and saying thank you for that. It is
about that moment when you look around the
room and realize your friends or family are
with you and how good it is to have them, even
if they can be annoying, challenging or stressful. If we miss those little opportunities to say a
quiet thank you, the gi;s in life and of the holiday season pass by unnoticed.
;at said, keep breathing and enjoy the
ride. A;er all, the emotional intensity of the
holidays is what makes them such a special
time of the year. If you keep these ;ve keys on
hand, chances are you will be able to enjoy the
emotional highs and lows as an opportunity to
celebrate life—your life—exactly the way it
happens to be this season. C
Business coach and author Vivian Dittmar
founded the nonpro;t Be the Change Foundation for Cultural Change ( VivianDittmar.com).
FOR YOUR HEALTH
Ho, ho, help!
of the reasons stress runs high during this time
is because we tend to be overburdened by
images of perfect holiday settings. We want it
all: the perfect out;t, the perfect dinner, the
perfect family, the perfect decoration, the perfect gi; for each and everyone.
While it’s good to care about making it a
great event for everyone, when we set the
mark too high, we can ruin it for ourselves and
those we love. When you ;nd yourself getting
stressed out, remember what gives you joy
during this time and let go of everything else.
It’s probably more simple than you think.
Less is more. Yes, it is. Go through those
long lists you have of everyone and everything you should be thinking about and
doing something for and, one by one, cross
out anything that is not essential. Meet fewer
people. Buy fewer gi;s but put more care into
them. Make less food but make it good.
Throw a less-than-perfect party but be a
relaxed host. Don’t throw a party at all, if it
stresses you. Have a cup of tea with friends
and see where it goes.
Check your real needs. ;is sounds obvious, but many of us get so caught up with taking care of everyone else’s needs during this
time of year that we forget to slow down and