By: Amy Ortiz-Lynn, LMHC, CCHT

The Winter Holidays are fast approaching, for many it’s a fun, happy, and exciting time of the year; yet for others it can be a time of stress, grief or worry… there’s the house to decorate, parties to attend, gifts to buy, meals to cook, family and friends to visit, and lots and lots of people to please!  And if that were not enough, blended families sometimes struggle with who gets the kids during the Holidays, or which set of parents and family members to visit this year – and how do we keep from going into a spending frenzy?  It’s enough to throw us into a Winter Wonderland tailspin!
 
It’s touted as the “happiest time of the year” and for many it truly is their experience.  Yet some people experience feelings of sadness and melancholy.   This is especially true when a loved one is no longer physically present.   
 
If you resonate with any part of this, you’re not alone – the Holiday Season can become overwhelming…. If we allow it.  Stress occurs when the demands we experience are out of alignment with our resources – both internal and external. It’s important to note, however, that it’s not the actual event, situation or circumstance that causes emotional discomfort.  It’s how we perceive or judge it.  We attach a meaning to it, we internalize it as a belief,  and we actually program our minds to believe that this is our “truth”.  
 
Thankfully, you already have all the resources that allow you to greatly reduce and manage emotional distress during the Holidays and throughout life.   Following are a few tips that will help you enjoy the Holiday Season:

  1. Managing stress.  Maintain realistic expectations by planning ahead.  Enjoy the fruits of your hard work and. Manage your time – prioritize, ask for help, you don’t have to it all on your own. Most important of all… TAKE TIME FOR YOU!  Go for a walk, begin a gratitude journal, volunteer, or practice relaxation techniques: breath awareness, meditation, visualization, mindfulness, or any form of relaxation that you enjoy.  Spend meaningful time with your family and friends.  Give yourself permission to enjoy the festivities.
  2. Gift-giving.  Showing your love and appreciation to those you care about can be fun and inexpensive.  Consider crafting your own creation – the love and thought you put into your creation will shine through.   If you’re not the crafty type and prefer shopping, set a budget and stick to it.
  3. Remembering your loved ones.  The Holiday Season can intensify the sense of grief and loss of loved ones who have left our physical world.  It can be difficult, yet know that you will survive.  Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to feel–let the tears come or vent if need be.  You don’t have to attend all the holiday parties you’ve been invited to, yet it is recommended to avoid isolation.  Reach out to family and friends, as emotional support can be very healing.  Honor your loved one.  Set a place at the table for them, hang an ornament on the tree in their memory or find a way that brings you peace.  The best gift you can give yourself and those you love is to live and love – honor the love, not the loss. Remember, love never dies.

For some, stress, anxiety, grief and depression run much deeper and persist beyond the holidays. This may be an indication of more serious issues and should be treated accordingly.  There are numerous therapeutic approaches that address underlying emotional problems, however in most cases, access to the subconscious mind can be achieved through the use of hypnotherapy.  This modality allows access to the subconscious mind providing a much faster route towards uncovering and addressing core beliefs and the hidden source of emotional disturbances.
 
This Holiday Season, be gentle with yourself, give yourself permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the festivities - smile, dance, sing, laugh, play and love!