Flo’s 5 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season

Ahh yes it is the “most Wonderful Time of the year….” The jury continues to be out as to whether or not there is authentic wonderment this time of year. The holidays were always significant to my own life experience both professionally and personally. Professionally, I had the privilege of working with many individuals who found resilient alternatives to remaining both mentally, physically and emotionally healthy through thanksgiving, Chanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Personally, the holidays have been a never ending sitcom of family gatherings, awkward explanations as to my marital status (or lack there of ) and life goals. In blending these experiences, below I have organized 5 tips to assist with coping with the illustrious holiday season, in the true shakespearean tradition.

  • Remember Who You Are

Just because we spend time with family and friends for a finite period of time between November and January, does not mean we negate the growth and lessons of the year. If anything, this time of reflection is a gift we give ourself to see our current path and embrace the excitment of where we want to go. Keep the expectations, realistic, Evil Kenieval , and instead, be still. Exist. Breathe. Feel into the season and continue to learn from the life given which is deprived from so many. Be proud of another year. The setbacks? Heartbreaks? Remember the pain reminds you, you are alive and you chose to come back to you. Many of the times facilitating group therapy led to my own reflections of my own year in the life when working with clients and setting my own goals. Existentialism is key! A personal hero of mine and a Holocaust Survior to boot, Viktor Frankl, once stated in his book A Man’s Search For Meaning, “to live is to suffer, to exist is to find meaning in the suffering.” Mistakes are lessons and failures are illusions reminding us that we tried. Reflecting on who we are and where we are going needs to be approached with the excitemment of a cross country road trip. Let the childlike excitement be acknowledged more significantly than the uncertainty.

  • Stay Hydrated

Ok, caption obvious! I get it! Hydration is key this time of year, not only for physical well being but believe it or not, to quell anxiety. I once read an article that stated that “humans are cucumbers with anxiety.” What the hell is this? You ask? Basically, the body and mind are dependent on nourishment regulate physiological homeostatisis and you guessed it, stabilize Mood! Now many would like to think that Eggnog, Manischeweitz and vodka are all liquids, but none actually “nurture” our body and mind. Water and hydration are key to maintain health during this stressful time and to quell the impending “flu” season.

  • Check your source!!

Ok, bear with me. I know this sounds random, but there is a purpose to this magic carpet ride we are about to embark on -through New Year’s day. I would like to play a game- I ask you all to think back to those fabulous days of higher education where we used to eat, sleep and breathe papers. When we would often write a paper and/or present an argument, we would have to cite our sources which support or contradict our thesis or opinion we were writing about. Fun fact: communication and human interaction are based on that same concept. The holidays are a great time for the universe to remind us of our singlehood or the forever “misfit” status we may embody when thrust in to a social event with our family of origin. Now flash forward to Christmas dinner for example, many of my clients and colleagues will share stories of the three times divorced step aunt from their mother’s side of the family feeling it is her duty to provide relationship advice to the single millenial or genereation X-er at the table. If and when this happens, I ask you to “check your source.” When we do this, we take our power back! We are able to look past the triggers which set off the ego and are able to “observe” the situation without reacting without intellect. At the end of the day, we are who we are and that is our “super power.” No one has the right to make us feel lesser due to residual inner conflict they cling to within themselves.

  • Follow the Spirit.

A few years back, I spent a great deal of time working in substance abuse clinics. The holidays were a significant trigger for many of the individuals I worked with. Many had no families to visit or estranged children who were not interested at “making amends” at that time. During that time, I learned a significantly powerful lesson: the holiday season is a state of mind. The clients I worked with during that time were not focused on who celebrated what holiday at what time. They focused on coming together as a community and celebrating the human condition. Many would reflect on the holidays they spent surviving on the streets and processed the gratitude they had for even just having a facility to come to during the holidays. Whether we realize it or not, despite negative things which have occurred in our life there is at least one memory we have as children were wonderment overwhelmed us and made us light up with excitement. Maybe it was a time when a loved one was present before passing or a funny memory of someone misplacing the green jello after Christmas dinner because Aunt Susan had too much wine again. Whatever the positive memory, it is life’s way of reminding us that the holidays are at there basic foundation a reminder of the innocence and purity of the human spirit. I am forever grateful for the holiday gatherings I attended at non profit programs, which allowed client’s a place to go when they felt unwanted or lost. For that time, family was re-defined and compassion was something as easily accessible as cold turkey sandwiches.

  • Create your own traditions.

In my own life, tradition was something that was instilled from an early age. It was what the family clung to as a sense of identity. True growth was when I found out that traditions are made to be “improvised.” Holiday traditions can sometimes present comfort or horror depending on the individual and whether or not “ugly sweaters” are involved. Establishing our own traditions, are a tip of the hat to the ancestors and form of self care. For example, the hopeless wanderer I can be, you might find me listening to Frank Sinatra’s Christmas albums while taking time to take a drive along the beach regardless of temperature as I attempt to croon mid eggnog latte on Christmas Eve prior to family shenanigans. Why? Peace is a gift we give ourselves as a form of love. Solitude is not for everyone but it is rejuvenating. In terms of traditions with other people, when my younger family members went away to college we began to make it a habit to meet up during some point during winter break and attempt to bake cookies. Regardless of how old we get, this will be something to cherish. Many laughs and a few second degree burns are worth the merriment.

I wish you all a holiday season filled with laughs awkward family encounters and peace!

‘Til Next time…..

One thought on “Flo’s 5 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season

  1. Great blog my dear niece!! Or, I’ll call it a Flo-g!!😁 can’t wait to see you over the holidays and add to your repertoire!! Let the games begin!!

    Like

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