Holidays Survival Kit

Some thoughts for navigating through stress

Have you ever felt o.k and had a song play on the radio and make you feel blue?  This can be especially true during the holidays.  You know, when they start playing THAT music two months before Christmas.  Not that they’re bad songs.  I’m not the Grinch.  BUT never underestimate the power of cues, especially during the holidays with all of the decorations and rituals.  The littlest reminders from the past can take us back there in a moment.  And it only takes one song or meal, or atmosphere to take us back down memory lane.  The problem is sometimes Memory Lane isn’t worth traveling down.


Everything is going to work out.

Just thought some of you might need to hear that right about now.

Especially if it FEELS like it’s not going to be.

Let’s face it, it seems as the years go by, there are more reasons to always be working through something, rather than resting.

Throughout the years you gain much, but there are also mounting losses.  For some, the holidays aren’t reason to celebrate what’s happening right now, they’re reminders of painful loss.

It’s not personal, that’s just the way life is. It rains on the just and the unjust.

People you once shared your holiday dinner table with are no longer here. Traditions die or just fade away. Family recipes are lost and let’s face it, nobody makes cookies like your Grandmother did.

But in the constant flow of movement and change, good things are happening, too. You may be another year older, but at least you’re still here. Loved ones pass on or move away, but new people come along too. Grandchildren. New Friends. Neighbors.

In your longing for the old days, don’t miss out on new days. Here are just a few thoughts on not just surviving the holidays, but savoring them. 

Have fun.  Enjoy the small pleasures in life. The best things in life may not be free, but the good things usually are. Go feed some pigeons in the park. Brew a pot of tea and share it with a friend. Sit by the fire and listen to its sounds. Reflect on the good times in your life. Count your blessings.

Stay positive.  Decide to be encouraged. Your mindset can make life on earth a heaven or hell. You’re responsible for your own thought life. Take every thought into captivity. Chances are if you haven’t been feeling well, you haven’t been thinking well. Is there an area of your thought life where you’ve let the weeds choke out your dreams? Beware of stinking thinking. Often, the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the conversation you have with yourself. As someone once said, “Nine out of ten worries heading your way are going to end up in the ditch.”

Celebrate.  But more importantly, choose to make your celebrations memorable. This one’s huge. It’s one thing to celebrate, it’s quite another thing to celebrate in a memorable way. Photographs help preserve celebrations, but often it’s doing something out of the ordinary that stands out in our memories. Break tradition. Have pizza and wings instead of Turkey. You get the idea. Take a hike and bring a picnic lunch. It’s up to you. Don’t let old ways of thinking keep you from going new places.

Innovate.  It’s so easy to tell yourself nothing is going to change. It’s so easy to just stay where you’re at and hunker down. But you’ll never win a new battle if you’re still worrying about how you lost the last one. Rather than doing something this season you’ll regret, decide right now to claim some new ground today! If it means pouring something down the sink, then by all means do it. As long as you keep repeating the same old patterns, nothing is going to change in your life.

Yes, the holidays can be tough. But you’re not alone, if you struggle this time of year. Why not connect with someone else who is going through a hard time? Maybe it means accepting an invitation from a family who’d like you to join them. Volunteer somewhere and serve if that’s what it takes. But whatever you do, don’t succumb to the idea your best days are gone and it’s all down hill from here. The minute you start focusing on the past, you lose the present and opportunities to focus on a brighter future.

Life is more than dwelling on the heartaches and hurts in your past. No matter how hard you try, some things in the past cannot be changed. But you can change right now and your future can change. It’s up to you. How would you like to feel one day, week, month or year from now? Chances are you want to feel better. If that’s the case you’ve got to start thinking better. What do you think?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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