Wholeness Healing Today


Frazzled or Fulfilled

With the holidays looming, one can begin to feel pulled in multiple directions. What family do I spend Thanksgiving with? What Christmas parties will I be attending? What do I buy for my son, my sister or grandpa? What meal should I prepare? How much do I spend this year? The list of options can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to gauge how much togetherness with friends and family is too much, or what takes the most financial precedence when there are so many enticing purchases to be made.

Additional pressure is created by the media, which often encourages one to focus on the ‘magic’ of the holiday season. Each year as the season approaches, it can be difficult to imagine feeling so ‘magical’ when one feels so consumed by these decisions ahead. Consider the food and drink options alone throughout the holiday season. The ‘magic’ of the season often impacts one’s thoughts, or lack of thought, about what one consumes. One may think, “It’s Thanksgiving, Grandma would be disappointed if I didn’t have seconds of her turkey.” The same can occur over Christmas. “This is the only time I get these kinds of candies and cookies.” The impact of abundant intake can be ‘magically’ forgotten and replaced with emotional eating. Addictions may resurface as triggers reappear such as the holiday itself, the company of others, or the experience of loneliness at a time when it is suggested that people should be happy.

Decision-making related to time with family can be equally difficult. Often times, longstanding traditions and rituals guide one’s thinking about when and with whom he or she will spend the holidays. Thus, options
may feel limited when enduring family conflict and/or losses of family members in attempts to maintain the traditions. Spending options can cause a significant increase in anxiety and in feeling overwhelmed. During the holidays, advertisements of sales and bargains increase and shopping centers become more crowded. Impulsive purchases are often made based on emotions and ‘magical thinking’ that providing the ‘perfect’ holiday experience for oneself and/or others can be achieved. However, the long-term consequences of unplanned spending or overspending only increases the stress.

Creating or strengthening coping strategies is essential as holiday stress mounts and planning ahead is important. Mindfulness can make a significant difference in reducing stress and increasing a sense of control throughout the holiday season. For instance, giving specific thought to triggers that affect eating or spending such as certain family members, foods, or rituals is important. Create a list of activities and exercise that can be utilized for relaxation and stress. Reevaluate family traditions and rituals to make personal choices about those that are most important and those that exceed a healthy level of stress.

Holidays can certainly be a balancing act. Asking family, friends, or coworkers what they remember most about the previous holiday may provide some direction to the decisions ahead. Focusing energy in areas that provide connection with others, that are free of conflict, and are planned ahead are likely to leave one feeling fulfilled. Taking the time to consider your choices may make the difference in you having a frazzled or fulfilled holiday experience.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Jody Johnson, LICSW, LIMHP, began working at Wholeness Healing Center as a therapist in 2007. Jody graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with her Masters in Social Work.  She received her bachelor degree in Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

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