July 7, 2021
BY Kayla Seitz MSW, APSW Therapist at Arrow Behavioral Health Services, LLC. December 15, 2020
As the holiday season approaches, we have indeed entered a wave of hindered expectations given the recent pandemic. Hugh Prather, a writer, lay minister, and counselor once said; “Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” Hugh was right about one thing—we can only stay comfortable with life for a short period of time as change can sweep in like a northern wind, unexpected, frigid, and not terribly pleasant.
Regardless of how you spend this holiday season, whichever holidays or celebrations you’ve found yourself immersed throughout your lives, it is apparent the “normalcy” of life right now may interfere with the expectations we have for the end of this year and the start of the next. As we take this adventure and new pathway, remember to focus on what you have the ability to control and what is outside of your control. Often times, it can be easier to forget that our power to change and direct energy of thoughts is within grasp, and takes only a moment of perspective and reflection.
Today, I encourage you to think of what this season brings to you; emotionally, physically, and mentally. Is what you are feeling self-enhancing such as comfort, joy, connection, and peace; or do you feel anxious, isolated, and alone? Regardless of what you feel, just be mindful of the emotions, not too quick to judge them as “good or bad.” Becoming aware of your thoughts is the first step in channeling your internal power to change the flow of energy to something that is self-empowering!
If you happen to be connecting the upcoming holiday season to self-defeating thoughts, identify if you are truly at fault for these feelings. Is your loneliness due to a pandemic you are unable to control? Is your anxiety due to shipping dates being postponed and Christmas gifts are arriving later than expected due to overwhelming protocols of shipping departments? And are you truly isolated with zero ability to connect in any fashion to another, or an experience?
The key to changing unhealthy thought patterns is by first identifying them, and then secondly, recognizing what is both true and untrue regarding the thought. You may choose to feel defeated with the changes ahead of you, or you may choose to empower yourself to feel something different or look at your expectations with a new lens. Here are some examples:
1. “I miss my family and hate that I cannot see them for the holidays!” Instead, identify ways that help you to feel connected to your family; online platforms to video conference, letter writing, social distancing meet and greets, driving separate cars together while scoping out the neighborhoods for Christmas lights, and shipping your favorite holiday treats to each other.
2. “This holiday season will be the loneliest one ever!” Loneliness is a fickle thing. It blinds us to the actual environment we are in; however, loneliness comes in both emotional and physical forms. Where is your loneliness coming from, and what is it that you need specifically? Maybe it is a phone call with a loved one, or a desire to sit in a public place to just be surrounded by the presence of people.
3. “Holidays just are not the same without (insert favorite holiday tradition or food)!” Everyone enjoys the opportunity to indulge whether it is on a long-awaited experience every year or a special treat that has been around for every celebration. This year might be an opportunity to create new traditions, or to attempt to create the traditions or foods you have grown to love and anticipate every holiday season. Perhaps this would be an excellent time to have someone teach you how to create these traditions via video conferencing so that you may continue the traditions for years to come.
Now to say that these changes in perspectives and channeling of energy will completely eliminate the uncertainty we may feel this holiday season, would be unrealistic. It is expected that this season and seasons that have passed recently will continue to come with discomfort; however, now you have a tool that can help the burden feel a little lighter once the waves reappear.
As always, if you or someone you know are struggling with changes and feel as if you need extra support this season, reach out and we would be happy to connect you with someone who can support you and assist you in your journey to self-empowerment and wellness.
On behalf of Arrow Behavioral Health, we wish everyone a safe and fulfilling holiday season.