Monday, December 21, 2015

Guest Blog Post: Seeking Balance during the Holiday Season

Christmas and the holiday season bring great opportunities for gathering with family and friends. Much joy, right? And much stress and sorrow, for some.

Joy comes when we connect harmoniously with others and love flows freely. It is a time to give the gift of a smile, encouragement, and a warm friendly embrace. Appreciation for special relationships, thoughtful gifts designed to communicate love, and quality time all seem to be given in extra measure during the Holiday season.

Sorrow, grief, and the pain of strained family relationships also can surface during this time of year. Here are a few tips for seeking the balance that will help you walk this tightrope for the rest of this month.

1) Accept that this season will bring a variety and range of emotional experiences to you. Give yourself permission to feel the ups and downs. Give others permission as well.

2) Recognize people are grieving right now. You may have experienced a significant loss of some kind yourself. “Anniversary reactions”, where a holiday, birthday, or anniversary of a particular loss brings back the sadness, is a normal part of the grief process.

3) Reach out to those with whom you want to communicate your love and connection. This can include old friends, more distant family, or neighbors to whom you communicate less frequently. Remember in particular those who are lonely at this time of year.

4) Set boundaries that will help you hold to your core values. It is O.K. to say “no” to the requests and demands of others on your time, if you have other priorities. Know your own priorities. You can set limits on others and still be a loving person. Holidays certainly increase the demands on your time.

5) Understand and accept that, for different reasons, some people will respond with hostility to our boundaries, perhaps seeking to control us through false guilt. You are not responsible for how other people feel or respond to you. Your task is to understand your own boundary challenges (when to say “yes” or “no”) and to follow your own convictions in a firm, assertive, yet kind manner.

6) Communicate with love and respect at all times, even when others push your buttons and you find yourself getting angry over the selfish demands of others. Count to ten, if you need time to calm down. Breathe deeply. Excuse yourself and go into the bathroom, if you need to lower your blood pressure.

7) Refrain from giving voice to the nasty thoughts that come to your mind. Emotions are poor decision makers. Deep hurt can make us vulnerable to saying or doing stupid things. Later, you will be glad you exercised that extra bit of self-control.

8) Remember the spiritual foundation for the Christmas and holiday season you are celebrating. It is the reason you value the idea of love in the first place. It empowers you to be flexible and balanced in your approach to others, whether setting boundaries or going the extra mile.

9) Develop a grateful attitude. Be thankful for the blessings of the relationships in your life. Pass on your blessings to others, and your holiday season will bring even more joy into your life.

Ronald S. Newman, Ph.D. is a local psychologist at the Lakeview Professional Center on Route 30 who can be reached at: write2balance@gmail.com.  This column originally appeared in the Hammonton Gazette. 

1 comment:

Linda L said...

Thanks Ed, I'm going to print this out for someone I know who isn't on Facebook.