The holidays don’t have to be perfect – Here’s how to bring tranquility to the season

Last year, we ran a post about how the holidays can be very difficult for many people. It’s a timely message that will help you deal with the often-unrealistic expectations of the season, so the information is worth repeating:

Do you remember when you were little what your thoughts and feelings were about this time of year? As you got older did you experience the media and the retailers painting a picture of how wonderful it would be, just a perfect time, you know, a Norman Rockwell picture, a “Leave It To Beaver” family happening?

Just in case it hasn’t gone as you idealized, as you hoped for, just in case it seems like this is a really difficult time of year, fraught with stress, dysfunction, possibly anger and resentment, then you are not alone. Millions of folks struggle with their own sadness and disappointment about how the dream really isn’t. So, what do we do in the face of our own feelings and possibly the unrealistic expectations of others? Here are some ideas:

· Allow yourself to let go of the dream
· “Reframe” your experience to eke out what defines your reality and come to a place of “acceptance” that this is what is; this is also resiliency, turning a struggle into a learning moment and bouncing back
· Acceptance is simply our awareness of what is and the ability
to adapt to that reality
· Gratitude is next. While your experiences may be less than perfect, what are the parts that you can feel good about
· And then, redesign this time of year in a way that is right for you; let go of what others think or believe and create a time that brings some tranquility and meaningfulness
· Don’t forget to set boundaries, take long, deep breaths and be gentle with yourself

Do you have other ideas or possibilities for redesigning this time of year? Drop me a line miriam-lacher@smh.com, and have a healthy holiday!
Miriam Lacher is Manager of the Bayside Center for Behavioral Health at Sarasota Memorial.

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