Common Curve-Balls for Mental Health Maintenance.

December is known as a festive month, generally carrying with it lots of joy and holiday cheer.

When you celebrate Chanukah, plan family get-togethers, attend holiday parties, food fests, and shopping sprees, they all contribute to the holiday season eventfulness - and overwhelmingness

For various reasons, you may not be feeling very sparkly this holiday season. 

“Joy to the world?”... whose world??? Mine is feeling pretty blah right now.

“Spin the dreidel”... more like spinning thoughts… ruminating endlessly… deep breaths…

“All I want for a Channuka is”... honestly… is to be left alone! But not really... I'm actually feeling quite lonely… Maybe all I want for Channuka is to feel normal again! 

There are catchy tunes playing around and heartfelt cards that are meant to inspire feelings of happiness, warmth, connection and wonderment... but for many people, for various reasons, at different points of their lives, are actually left feeling quite the opposite of the “joyful holiday spirit”...

They may be left feeling even a bit “grinchy”

Although I’m a firm believer in maximizing opportunities to celebrate life and its gifts, I am also fully aware of the potential dark-side of life, the challenges we grapple with, and feelings of hopelessness.

Somehow, whatever every-day struggles you grapple with on a day-to-day basis feel exasperated during this holiday season.

Low self esteem becomes lower…

I feel so uncomfortable in my skin every day…  but somehow the holidays make me want to hibernate even more than usual...

It’s bad enough I lost my job... but now I need to go out and buy presents for everyone I know or people with think I’m “less than”… 

It’s bad enough I lost a baby ( or insert pregnancy, child, parent, friend…) and now I have to be around people who are celebrating their own relationships that I don’t have. People look at me with pity. That’s the last thing I need right now.  

That fake smile has been on my face more often lately (even though I don’t consider myself a fake person)... and it’s exhausting!

My schedule was crazy before and I already felt shame and sadness about not being able to balance my life... and now I’m supposed to add juggling parties, family get-togethers, shopping etc. to my list of responsibilities…

I already felt inadequate as a wife (husband, mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, friend, employee, boss…) and this season makes it worse! Everyone else seems to have it together except me! 

 

Everyone else around me seems to be able to afford extravagant vacations and expensive clothes, but I barely manage to pay off my debt… and feelings of guilt and shame that I can’t give my kids what their friends are getting… and now I have to go into more debt to “keep up with the lower-class version of the Joneses” this holiday!

My marriage is rocky and I am worried I might be single this time next year (and I don’t know how much of this to share with others)... and now I have to go to family parties and pretend nothing is wrong...

My connection to G-d (a higher power, and/or sense of meaning and purpose) is in the dumps… I’m feeling stuck, sad, and isolated… and there are so many parts of this holiday that feel superficial and lacking in meaning…

I already felt lonely before… and now, even though there are so many people around, I still feel lonely...

Nothing I do will ever be good enough...

If any of these statements feel familiar, just know you are totally normal. 

The holiday season tends to bring out a lot of strong feelings, even more than usual. 

While the feelings and reasons we feel these feelings will vary from person to person, there are many common underlying causes that we will unpack together.

Just because Hallmark has created a brand of warm, fun-filled, much-loving cards, there is no commandment for you to get sucked in to the sentimental culture set out by the media and consumer industry. 

Your holiday season isn't defined by what society decides is a “time to be jolly”, rather, your holiday season will be sweet if you learn to fill it with moments that resonate with what you’re needing right now, in your life.

Over the next few weeks we will explore some common mental health challenges and effective strategies to help cope with the holiday storms this time of year. 

As you probably know, I am not one for simple-solutions. I don’t expect you to read one blog filled with words of comfort and expect your heart to suddenly feel warm and filled with glee.

The challenges we face at holiday time are often rooted in deeper, unacknowledged “feels” from deep inside.

Because of that, as you join me on this holiday series, I invite you to bring along some curiosity, openness and wonder as I provide you some tips towards a more wholesome winter-holiday experience. 

We may not be digging into a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s, but we’ll be digging into some topics  flavored with honesty and sprinkled with health.

How does that sound? 

I get that it can be tough to stay present, look inward and sift through the “attic” of your heart; so I invite you to take in as little or as much as you can of the next few weeks.

My hope is that you find some comfort in these words and, at least, feel just a bit less alone.

The topics in this winter series that are coming up include:

  • WINTER BLUES: PREDICT THE UNPREDICTABLE

  • KNOW YOUR WHY

  • FEELINGS “ON-DEMAND”

  • YOUR PERMISSION SLIP: THE FREEDOM TO CHOOSE 

  • WINDS OF CHANGE: LIVING IN THE MOMENT

  • RE-SCRIPT & RE-DEFINE

  • BOUNDARIES: A SENSE OF OWNERSHIP

  • A GOAL WITHOUT A PLAN, IS JUST A WISH

Each of the following weeks you’ll be getting a blog right into your inbox, just for you.

Make sure to subscribe to my blog on this platform so you don’t miss each part of this valuable holiday series. 

I’m looking forward to growing together with you in the coming weeks.

For now, stay warm….

Esther

*originally posted on integrativepsych.co

 

Esther Goldstein LCSW is psychotherapist and trauma specialist who runs a private practice called Integrative Psychotherapist in Cedarhurst, NY. At Integrative Psychotherapy we are passionate about helping adults reduce anxiety and find a richer way of living, loving and "being" that promotes joy and connection. Our therapists use science based methods and modalities such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Sensorimotor Psychotherapy (somatic), Expressive Arts and Parts work (Ego State Work) to help clients feel relief that last way beyond their time on the therapy couch.

Specialties include treating anxiety, trauma survivors, relationships issues, family-of-origin work, Inner-Child work, Attachment focused Therapies, Healing for Complex PTSD And Dissociative Disorder Treatment.

We also offer Trauma Informed Consultation To Therapists Committed To Improving Their Trauma-Informed Practice And Attachment Focused EMDR Consultation To Therapist Attaining Hours Towards EMDRIA Certification.

Website: Integrativepsych.Co