By Reba J. McMellon, M.S.,LPC
Coping doesn’t sound very festive, but it is an undeniable part of our holiday season. We cope with expectations others have of us. We are coping with the expectations we put on ourselves. And we try to cope with time deadlines, long lines and even perhaps ghosts from Christmas past. The holiday season is about jazzing up life during the winter season. A wonderful way to cope is to think about ways you can jazz up your life. Not the neighbor’s life, the economy or anything else. Jazz up life for you. If you enjoy certain traditions, do them. If you don’t enjoy the traditions or begin to find them monotonous, change them. Remember, it’s about jazzing up your life.
Centering is a must in an effort to cope. Take some time to center yourself. Focus on what holds value and meaning for you this holiday season. Forgetting to center can have the same results as forgetting to breath. You’ll get lightheaded and dizzy and feel like you just might faint.
In fact, after a prolonged period of being off center, you might find the thought of fainting for a few minutes oddly comforting. Centering can be done in three minutes or less.
For instance, instead of trying desperately to pass the slow driver in front of you, relax and enjoy the easy pace. Or sit in your car in the parking lot of the shopping center for about three minutes, just breathing. Another idea is to simply sit in your own living room and look around at all the comforts of home-quietly. Try smiling during these times. It’s amazing how far this will go to center your body, mind and spirit.
Caring is paramount to making the holiday season a positive one. We are all guilty of getting so caught up in holiday planning and pleasing, we find ourselves with no strength or energy left to truly care about our family and friends. Take away the glitter and decorations, the ribbons and bows and examine the true gift underneath.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were possible to wrap up a big box of caring and give it to the ones you love. Opening a big box of caring and love given to you by others would be wonderful as well. Showing more love and concern for each other goes a long, long way. In our communities, churches, synagogues and families, truly caring for one another will last long after the tree is taken down and the holiday decorations are packed away for another year.
Celebrate what it is you truly love. That can include most anything. Eat special holiday foods that you don’t indulge in the rest of the year. Think eggnog, or cheese straws; or candy canes and fudge.
Remember which songs you love to hear and sing during this season only. Play them, dance to them and sing them. If you have happy holiday memories, share them. Something as simple as putting a red bow on your pet’s collar can be a celebration of the season.
Learn a little about how Christian cultures around the world celebrate Christmas and maybe adopt some new ideas. Sometimes the best celebrations are quiet contemplations.
When we center ourselves, truly care for our family and friends, use our coping skills and celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas, we might look forward to doing it again next year. Masks or no masks.
(Reba J. McMellon, M.S. is a licensed professional counselor with 35 years of experience. She worked in the field of child sexual abuse and adult survivors of abuse for over 25 years. She continues to work as a mental health consultant and freelance writer. Reba can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)