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When Your Holidays Aren't Happy

 


Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. What I love about it is the mystique and how most people are so generous. There's just this generous spirit that is going on, and kindness and love is expressed at Christmas time. So it's generally a phenomenal time of year.

The problem for many people is that the holidays are actually more of a stressful time. Particularly if they're experiencing financial difficulties, or there's some kind of stress that's going on in their life. The holidays can certainly intensify that.

There are also people who have experienced tragedy at Christmas time. Our family was one of those families. I'll get into that a little bit more later.

But there's also the stress that we put upon ourselves. There's financial stress. 

It's also usually the time when we start to miss those people that we've lost the most, at the times of the year when we're celebrating.

So Christmas can sometimes be a difficult time of year for people.

I wanna talk a little bit about how to navigate that, and also how we help others to navigate that.

I don't want this to be a downer kind of video, but I think it's important that we acknowledge and appreciate that it can be a difficult time for people, and also recognize that it's a time of Love, where we can all come together and support people. People who might be struggling.

Our family holiday tragedy happened three years ago. We were on a family vacation skiing, my niece Cassidy was in a tobogganing accident. We spent Christmas day saying goodbye to her in the ICU. Cassidy passed away on the 26th of December.

The reason that we are celebrating and honoring her today, and the reason that I have purple on is because December 2nd is Cassidy's birthday. We honor her every year by wearing purple, which was her favorite color. Purple has become Cassidy's color and it's become the symbol of her. That, and multicolored roses.

So that's, that's our story. And that's why December has become a bit of a challenge. It was a hard day today, and it usually is on any kind of anniversary. 

I guess the most important thing is that we acknowledge these anniversaries and these times that are difficult. Sometimes the anticipation of an anniversary coming up can be worse than the actual day, to experience it and get through it. You can cause a lot of stress for yourself, worrying about these kinds of things.

So my tips for today about how to navigate this and how to get through it if Christmas time is a difficult time, is to follow the ABCs. I use these for just about everything.

1. Allow. Give yourself permission to feel what you're feeling. And I think sometimes we tend to try to resist feeling the sadness, the anger. We try to push it away. We try to pretend that it's not happening. And by doing that, it can actually get stuck in our body. I used to be uncomfortable with showing any kind of emotion. I didn't want to ever look like I was affected in public. So I wouldn't cry in public. I like to think that I hid my emotions fairly well... and I ended up with depression. So we suppress and we push away those emotions -- because it let's face, it doesn't feel great to feel that deep sadness and heartache that we go through.

But when we allow it to pass through us, when we allow ourselves to release it and release that energy behind it, we generally feel better. And there's actually neuroscience behind this -- that as we release those emotions, they pass through our system. There's a chemical reaction in our system that passes through in about 45 seconds. So anything beyond 45 seconds of emotion is all being fueled by our thoughts. And that's okay. That is totally okay.

What's important is that we do remember, and we do feel these things and we do experience the emotions of life. A lot of people feel pressured to be all happy and cheerful and not let anybody see that they're struggling through the holidays.

It's really important that we allow ourselves to feel what we're feeling and, when it comes to emotional wellbeing, I always say that the best thing to do is to face our emotions, feel our emotions, so that we can then deal with them and heal from them.

So feel the sadness or stress or whatever's coming up for you, really embody it, allowing it to pass out of your body. Listen, now I've had loads of public snot swinging cries, and it's tremendously helpful in the whole psych department. Give yourself permission to let go of it as well.

The next thing I suggest is letting go. What do you need to let go of? Sometimes we get stuck in our story and stay there, and sometimes we have to let that go. If I feel like I need a good cry, I can generally cry on command. If I'm feeling like I'm really suppressing emotions, I'll watch a movie that I know will make me cry.

Or I will run a hot bath or get in the shower and just let it go. And it's tremendous how releasing that emotion can can feel afterwards.

2. So the second tip I would have, is to Breathe. And this is a big one. What happens when we're stressed, when we're experiencing grief, when we're going through difficult times is we have a tendency to hold our breath. We have a tendency to hold our whole system really tensely. And there's just amazing physiological changes that can happen when we allow ourselves to take a deep breath. Allow the feelings that are coming up, don't apologize for them, and breathe.

3. And the last one is to Connect. And it's counterintuitive when we're struggling, when we're having a difficult time to reach out and connect with somebody. I know that there are people who are on technology. But for some people, the only way that they are able to connect is through Facebook posts, through texting, through some form of communication. I like face-to-face. That's better for me. But I do sometimes isolate myself when I'm going through a difficult time. And that's okay because each of us has our own way of dealing with it.

I think that's important to remember too. However you find your way to deal with whatever's going on for you is okay. If you know what you need, if you need quiet time, or time away from people, then that's great. If you know that you need to be around people, then that's great too. When you're ready, I encourage you to reach out and connect with other people. Even if it's going to the shopping mall where you can go and be around people, the energy of being around people can be really, really, really helpful.

So that's the ABCs -- Allow that emotion, be sure to Breathe and Connect with other people.

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