Navigating Change at the Holidays – Newsletter Winter 2017, Vol. 4

It is the holiday season, full of joyful experiences and…well… not-so-joyous ones.  We all have expectations of what our holiday experience should be, and when a change comes into our lives and disrupts our expectations it can lead to less-than-joyous feelings.

The old adage “the only thing constant is change” seems to be especially obvious during the holidays.  We may see new faces at family gatherings.  Changes in holiday traditions can result from welcoming a new spouse to the family.  We may feel the loss of loved ones, either through a death, a divorce, or a relocation.  No matter the change, whether it be viewed as a positive or negative one, less-than-joyous emotions can occur.

Prepare Enrich listed these tips to consider when navigating an addition, change, or loss:

  • Have realistic expectations: Family dynamics will change. Things may not feel the same without Grandma or now that Dad is remarried. Know that things will not go perfectly, and that’s okay. Prepare yourself for the “failures” you may experience, but also recognize that your family coming together is something to be celebrated in itself.
  • Plan ahead:  Coordinate and communicate with family members early on to cut down on the unnecessary stress of who is going where and when and who is bringing what. This is a very functional tip (no need for a mindset switch), but it ensures that everyone is on the same page, or at least in the same book!
  • Honor existing rituals and traditions:  Holiday traditions and rituals are important because they create a sense of family identity and bonding. These types of rituals are especially important to children, but adults may find themselves clinging to the sense of nostalgia as well. Be mindful that new family members feel welcome and included, and give them grace in learning the “ways” of the family.
  • Start new ones: Just as honoring existing traditions strengthens family ties, creating new ones is a way to engage new family members and promote a feeling of belonging. It is also a positive way to cope with inevitable change. Engage the whole family and craft new activities that you’d enjoy trying, together.
  • Be flexible and try to relax: There will likely be periods of transition as families change year to year. It will take time to figure out what’s important and what works best for everyone. Be willing to compromise, and adopt a go-with-the-flow mentality. If you start to get overwhelmed, take a moment to enjoy the little things (a cup of delicious hot cocoa) while remembering the big picture: that family members are healthy, safe, and able to be present with one another.

Our friend, Dave Johnson, PhD, CNS-BC, LMFT, shares about the role of mindfulness in times of hustle and bustle, reminding us  that no amount of gift giving can replace our gift of presence. Value love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness and self-control.  Mindfulness also has a role in addressing sadness following deep loss.  Dr. Johnson encourages us to acknowledge pain and grief.  Holidays are often paired with the memories of those who have passed and are no longer here physically. Seeing others expressing joy when we feel sad reminds us of how seemingly out of sync we are. Grief can be raw, ruthless, and dominating. Embracing mindfulness during the holidays can help us ride this season knowing that, like other seasons of life, nothing is permanent.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to grow your mental well-being.  Look Up is here for you.  Check out our new video below to learn more about what we offer.

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