Every year around the holiday season, there’s a mood in the air. Can you feel it?
For some it’s the mood of peace and cheer.
But not for everyone. For others, there’s a dread and anxiousness. What is it that you feel?
A Ba-Humbug mentality that pervades your thoughts
We all have our own reasons for what we feel about the holidays. We might decorate our houses with lights and trees and candy canes. Or we might get festive in different ways.
I actually don’t do a lot of decorating for the holidays, so maybe you’re like me in that way.
At the heart of all the holiday/Christmas season is a spirit of warmth and peace. But not everyone experiences or feels this sentiment.
For some people, the holidays just suck. Family interactions can be strained and difficult.
Demanding relatives, passive aggressive personalities, guilt trips, chaotic exchanges. All these factors contribute to a high level of anxiety that can grip you in its claws from Thanksgiving until the new year.
Other people feel loss during the holidays, because they don’t have people in their lives who used to be close. Either through death, separation, or loss (i.e. divorce), the loneliness that comes with the holidays can be debilitating and stressful.
If you feel anxiety before the holiday season, you’re not alone. If you’re dreading the travel and interactions in front of you, let’s look at an alternative to fostering all this tension.
Are you going to just completely change your holiday plans and NOT see your family this year? Probably not. So you can either dread the month of December or you can do something different.
What would it feel like to not let the holiday season overwhelm you? It’d feel like something out of a movie. Maybe even a little like peace.
Laughter, happiness, enjoyment, fun, calmness, tranquility, rest, comfort.
The stuff in those movies that we’re all so fond of. White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, Elf, and even Love Actually all have elements of people experiencing peace and joy during a somewhat stressful time. Is that real? Or is that Hollywood?
You may have strife in your family dynamic or with the people you spend the holidays with. No family is perfect.
There may even be a few toxic personalities you wish you could avoid. Or folks who you don’t agree with, and you’re not looking forward to them popping off with their deep opinions on all the things you’re not doing right.
Your feelings and your thoughts are up to you to control and change.
You can’t control the actions, attitudes, and behaviors of other people. And while you may have plenty of examples from the past about why Uncle Jack is an asshole every year, you don’t have to let his antics control your thoughts or beliefs about the holidays.
And you certainly don’t have to let anyone’s attitude negatively control your personal peace.
The only person who gets to be inside your head and control your thoughts is you. No one else. If you choose to be anxious, that’s your choice. No one else can make you feel that way.
If that makes you upset, it’s still your choice my friend.
What you think about is what you focus on. What you focus on grows.
By focusing on the stuff that you don’t like, even the attitudes and behaviors of people that don’t make you feel good, only makes those thoughts intensify. Which increases the anxiety and dread.
All that built up tension you bring with you to your holiday destination gets to get amped up even more because you’re so focused on the worst possible outcome.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Try this: adopt a different perspective.
The difference between shifting perspective and thinking positively
I’m not talking about “just think positive thoughts and everything will be ok.” That’s not real nor is it healthy. It’s rose colored frames on blurry glasses.
You can try on a different pair of glasses altogether and shift the perspective. See something different than the tension you’re focused on?
Start with yourself. That’s the only person you’re in control of.
Shift your mindset out of focusing on what frustrates and stresses you out, about anyone or even about yourself. Shift into focusing on what you love about the people in your life.
You will find what you search for. Whatever it is that you seek and look for, you’re going to find it.
That’s why when you focus so intently on the tension, drama, pain, and stress you feel around certain people, you experience more and more of it. What you focus on will appear all over the place.
Experiencing the holidays after heartbreak and the end of a relationship
The first Christmas I had after the end of my marriage was particularly challenging. I have a loving and generous family. They welcomed me and my silent state.
It was hard to talk about much, because I’d spent so much of the year feeling like a failure and unloveable. Having a safe place to just be is so essential to your healing and your mental health.
This is true during the holiday season especially, when some interactions with family can create tension and stress. You don’t want to add to the hurt you’re feeling already, so you try to hide away. Which can create a different kind of tension.
The more you allow yourself to plant love inside your mind and your heart and choose to love yourself, the easier it gets to be around people again. No matter what, it’s important to practice healthy boundaries in your interactions with people, family or otherwise.
If you don’t want to talk or share something, you don’t have to. Respect yourself and your own levels of comfort talking about your pain and your road to healing.
How to shift your focus to bring about peace instead of anxiety
Shifting from focusing on what you don’t like and into what you admire and value creates a different dynamic. It changes the energy in whatever place you’re in.
It creates an atmosphere of peace, where there might have been something else.
How do you create this shift?
Here are a few simple steps to take to shift your perspective, and create a more peaceful energy experience for yourself and others:
- Decide you want to feel good, be at peace, and live in harmony with everyone in your life (including your family/relatives)
- Make a declaration to yourself: “I choose to feel good. I want to live in peace. I value my family and my relationships.”
- Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you’re responsible for you and no one else.
- Let yourself be at peace and feel it.
You do you. You control you. If you don’t want anxiety and stress during the holiday season, take your mind off of what’s gripping you in tension and focus on love, peace, and beauty.
Simple right? It’s simple. But it’s not easy.
* This blog article was originally published at dgrantsmith.com.
D Grant Smith is known as the Growth Farmer, which means he has an old-fashioned approach to living a whole & healthy life. Get his free ebook called Love Is The Seed To Success, that gives help in healing relationships and growing healthy ones. His new book Be Solid: How To Go Through Hell & Come Out Whole is about the journey into self-love and self-care after heartbreak and personal loss. He’s an empowerment superhero who would love to give you encouragement so feel free to reach out!
Image courtesy of Olya Kobruseva.