Life Connection Counseling | Preparing for the Holidays
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Preparing for the Holidays

Preparing for the Holidays

It’s that time. The stores are having the biggest sales of the year! Television commercials show us everything that our loves ones desperately want for the holidays. Hallmark, telephone companies, and even coffee companies show us how perfect the holiday is. They show happy families that do anything just to be with each other for the this season. Unfortunately, for some of us, that doesn’t reflect our reality. Holidays can be an extremely painful time either because we don’t have family or because we do have family!! Here are some tools to help prepare and help make the holiday season as pleasant as possible: Know that you can’t change your family. People can only change themselves. We all want the picture perfect Hallmark family and most people want to believe that their family is really that wonderful group of people if they could just get in the right circumstances. And then, they act like themselves! If we go into a holiday with an agenda to try to get people to act differently or change their lives, we are going to be frustrated and disappointed. We can, however, prepare ourselves for some of the dysfunction and our reaction to it by pulling out Townsend and McClouds book Boundaries or other helpful books and rereading them to help prepare ourselves for the reality of our family situation and plan for how we will react to it in a healthy way. Limit the time you are together. Just because you have a week off doesn’t mean that you have to spend the entire week with family. A five hour visit that is pleasant and positive is much better than a four day visit that ends in disaster. Though family may object, making it a pleasant visit is best for everyone concerned (whether they know it or not!). Make an escape plan. Sometimes the atmosphere of the family or reactions of other people get overwhelming and we need a short break to regain our peace or composure. Making plans to go for an afternoon walk or escaping to the bedroom or even making sure you have a car available if you need to leave can help reduce the feeling of being trapped and lessen our anxiety. Use your allies. If you have a supportive spouse or sibling, create a strategy with them to help in awkward situations. If a certain family member always tends to corner you and bring up negative or painful issues, have your ally watching to interrupt conversations or keep you from being cornered. Give yourself a gift. All the Christmas hype leads us to believe that we all deserve that perfect thoughtful gift, the one that someone has thought for hours about and bought just for us. Many people end up disappointed on Christmas with the plain old sweater or toaster- all of which was on their list , but just lacks the pizazz that is “suppose” to represent Christmas. I encourage clients to be their own best friend and to celebrate the holidays by giving themselves something that is special and magical just for themselves. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It may be an early morning Christmas jog or tickets to a play or an entire evening where your spouse takes the children and you stay home and watch your kind of movies alone! The idea is that we don’t have to be dependent on other people doing something for us to enjoy the holidays. By Janis Sharpe, MS, LMFT

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