Video: Agony Of Holidays - Opinions
Not so long ago, Hanukkah and Catholic Christmas have passed, and the New Year is just around the corner: for everyone, the time comes for family gatherings, corporate events, open days and discouraging discounts. But if for some this period of the year is delightful, sincere, giving continuous pleasure, for others it is a real stress when you have to experience losses or bitterness, respond to life's challenges, when everyone around is singing and having fun.
While others are enthusiastically waiting for the celebrations themselves, and the accompanying vacations, and evenings with the family, people who have not so long ago lost someone from their loved ones look downcastly at the gray surroundings of their empty apartments and yearn for their loved ones. When the excitement of shopping, decorating houses and courtyards, holiday baking and sending out postcards is deliberately emphasized around, loneliness, pain and loss are felt much more acutely. And this emotional outburst makes people in discomfort move further and further from communication with others in an attempt to isolate themselves from the annoying joy around.
The holiday season for many becomes an annual stumbling block, as it is somehow "inhabited by the spirits" of those whom we have loved, whom we have known for many years - and who are now missing. Almost everyone, even if lately there have been no grievous losses, these days involuntarily recall the "special" moments of the holidays with grandfathers and great-grandfathers, for example, or friends who have moved far away, or children who have begun to live separately. Therefore, any merriment of the Christmas and New Year period is still slightly overshadowed by sadness, even if light.
There is no one sure way to combat this holiday bitterness. Especially for those whose losses are still fresh in their memory. But one option is to face the pain face to face. Make it part of the tradition, not strenuously avoid it. Do not hide the soul in the back streets, deliberately pushing it into the background, but share tears and memories with those loved ones who sincerely understand and actively participate in this idea.
For example, you can place ceremonial photographs of those whom the family especially misses these days at the table or just in the room. Or even decorate a Christmas tree with portraits. Of course, it will be really difficult to start an open and intimate conversation about the departed, but speaking your feelings out loud actually helps a lot. It is best to remember the bright and cheerful moments of the past. I will say even more: in some cultures such a tradition - to "sit down" the departed - has existed for a long time. It is a tribute and a way to express your unquenchable love even after accepting their departure to another world.
Such a straightforward approach to expressing emotions allows you to remove the burden from the soul, to really free yourself from the accumulated repressed feelings, which can often harm physical well-being. Silence and isolation also require special mental strength, high energy costs, which also psychologically and physically exhausting and draining a person. The meaning of this behavior is not obvious, since attempts to pretend that everything is normal has never led to a real normalization of the situation.
There is, however, another option, if the first one seems too complicated. It consists in completely changing everything around - and the entourage, and the traditions of celebration, and even everyday habits. You need to stop doing everything as before, so that you no longer compare the present and the past. Among my clients were families who, after the loss of loved ones, so as not to find themselves at a Christmas table full of memories, went on holiday cruises, for example.
Well, of course, do not forget other standard methods of dealing with stress. When on holidays you experience discomfort (even if we are talking about an easy experience, and not about the loss of loved ones), get more rest, exercise, drink more water and vitamins, moderate the amount of alcohol, and focus on proper nutrition. Everything has a price. And if you don't want to start the new year with a bad mood and lack of hope, pay attention to even the smallest details: together they can really change your sense of self and mood. In the end, the holiday should still bring peace, love and joy, no matter what sorrows fill this light!
Scott E. Smith, Ph. D., Behavioral Psychologist at Spectrum Behavioral Health in Maryland