Collin County Living Well Magazine November/December 2017 - Page 44

Holiday Cheer or Challenge M By Georgia Smith-Lyle, MA, LPC-S ost of us grow- ing up looked forward to the holidays. Chil- dren’s idea of the holidays and the joy they bring is far different than an adult’s perspective. I believe we all would like to maintain a childlike attitude and naive- ty about the holidays. As we get older, we meet life with more responsibilities and somehow most of the “cheer” in a holiday season dwindles. The cheer is replaced with emotional, financial, and physical challenges. We may even start out the season with thanksgiving, hope and cheer in our attitudes only to meet with some reality. What about the emotional reality of trying your best to accom- modate schedules? First, we must admit a few things about what we can and can- not do during the hol- idays and be at peace with our decision. It may not be the decision others “expect of you,” or “required of you.” Ask yourself the pros and cons of your decisions. It is true the holidays are all about thinking of others, spend- ing time with friends and family, and giving of yourself. But if you stretch yourself to thin either emotionally, financially or trying to travel ev- erywhere to make sure you see everyone you will defeat the purpose of the season…the holiday season is meant to bring cheer, joy and peace. You most likely will go into the new year needing a vacation from the holiday season. You search for the best possible way to make sure everyone gets visited or comes for a visit only to find yourself chal- lenged and a bit stressed at making sure everyone will feel important and included. Or the emotional reality of spend- ing on gifts beyond what your financial budget may really allow but wanting to make sure loved ones and friends know how important they are through your giving. Then there are the physical challenges we put upon others and ourselves attempting to travel short or long distances, trav- eling hours just to make sure we fulfill our holiday commit- ment. But the reality many times is the holidays can bring more stress, depression, anxiety and conflict when met with stressful challenges than the holiday cheer the season is intended to be all about! I suggest you take an inventory and do a pros and cons of your decisions. Establish now what you believe is emotionally healthy for you to meet the needs of the holiday season. Remember, if you balance your own life with healthy expectations for yourself, you will be much happier and able to enjoy oth- er’s company. You will have energy left over to enjoy life and the joyful moments each day brings. I’m not suggesting the holiday should be or even can be made stress free. That is not reality. But I am suggesting a good look at what you can and cannot do this holiday season, looking at the pros and cons and then following through with your decision. The stress of trying to juggle finances, your time and your emotional tank of giving can send you over the edge into anxiety, depression, fatigue and a lack of motiva- tion. All of these negative emotions are counterproduc- tive to “the holiday cheer” the season is meant to provide. In spite of all the challenge, I believe most of us would agree we still look forward to the holidays but are not sure how to adjust our life, and emotional tank to meet the chal- lenging needs four months out of a year demands. Let loved ones and friends know ahead of time your ideas about how you need to spend the hol- idays so that no one is taken off guard. Maybe, even scheduling a get together after the first of the year or spring time for those you are not able to spend time with during the holidays. Most loved ones and friends would probably welcome and be relieved at your ideas making holidays less of a challenge. Your ideas are mostly ones they have thought of but have not wanted to mention. I hope you find these suggestions help- ful. I also hope the holiday season of 2017 leaves you happy, healthy and refreshed in every area of your life! Georgia Smith, MA, LPC-S is in private practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas providing counseling for children, adolescents, adults, and marriage and family. She is also an author of two books and a public speaker. Georgia may be reached at 469-855-0256 or via email 42 COLLIN COUNTY Living Well Magazine | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017