Core Counselling - discover your true self

Have a Mindful Holiday Season!

Often we enter the new year feeling as if the holidays were a stressed time, left with more than expected credit card debt and ten pounds of weight gained. Did we really spend the time the way we had intended it to be? How can we ‘do’ Christmas and New Years better? We begin with mindfully deciding ‘how’ we want to do them.

Say for example, if we wish not to gain weight over the month, we purposely decide to use smaller plates, only have one alcoholic beverage (if any), not choose foods that we have most of the year (how special is that bun & butter?!), or choosing a piece of chocolate over a full dessert. We are not depriving ourselves from ‘treats’, rather; choosing which to include. Be careful not to get caught in the ‘scarcity’ factor – that, “I better have some … or I won’t get any til next year.”

Look at patterns of behaviour over past holidays and any resentment you may have had around them. Have we felt obligated to stay a certain length of time with family/friends, ‘produce’ the big meal, or spend more than we felt comfortable? The resentment is not about others, it is about us still doing what we do not want to be doing.

Ask – how do I want these situations to be?

Question the rituals. Do we really need ten varieties of squares when five would be sufficient? Just because we have traditionally stayed up to midnight watching Christmas movies with a friend on Christmas Eve, do you still want to do this again this year? Be truthful to yourself and others. You may be surprised that they feel the same. Of course, there is also the possibility others will not like you wanting to change ‘the way it’s always been.’ Suggest alternative ideas in a respectful way, so it is win-win for all.

Be aware of family dynamics and what you can expect (or not!) from others. Talk openly with others (if you feel safe or is really needed at all) about any expectations around time spent together. At least, establish for yourself clear plans; setting time, money and energy boundaries (e.g., time for a walk, nap or quiet time reading). Remember, we do not have to explain our actions!

Facing the huge expectation that one is supposed to be with friends and family over the holidays can bring disappointment and feelings of loneliness. Being on our own on Christmas does not mean we cannot bring meaning to the holidays.

If you are anticipating being alone, seek out social interaction through community, spiritual, volunteering or other social events. Participating with others, even if they are strangers, raises the level of our feel-good molecules.

Create a list of self-care activities that bring you joy and peace (e.g., walks in nature, buying a treat, making a gratitude list, listening to music, viewing a favourite movie, etc.). Make the holiday what you want it to be not what is expected of you.

Holiday time is also a great time to review the last year. Ask – What do I need to let go of? What patterns of behaviour no longer serve me?  The start of winter is also the time to plant the seeds to your dreams. Ask  – What do I want to put my energy into next? What direction is my psyche leaning towards?

May you find moments of peace, love, appreciation, joy and contentment over the holidays.

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Diane Hancox, MA, CCC provides counselling services to Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo and Vancouver Island.