The holiday season can bring about a wide range of emotions.
Disclaimer: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, loneliness, depression, isolation, or alienation, please contact: In the United States—988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline–24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everywhere else–International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), please log on to https://findahelpline.com/i/iasp and select your country for resources or reach out to your local mental health agency.
Learn to be Kind to Yourself.
The stress of what is supposed to be a festive season can trigger a wide range of uncomfortable feelings including sadness, anger, and fear. Many people understand that this is a difficult time filled with high expectations to help their families and loved ones feel merry and be generous.
An endless schedule of events and activities during the season can undue pressure on people—on the best days—to be cheerful and generous beyond their capabilities. When someone also suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, or the “winter blues”), debilitating depression can keep people from experiencing any joy as they go about their holiday activities.
Symptoms of SAD typically include:
- Persistent low mood.
- Loss of interest in everyday activities.
- Feelings of guilt.
- Feelings of worthlessness and/or feeling lethargic.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of SAD develop in the autumn and–for most people with this diagnosis–carry through the winter, easing during spring. SAD is most often diagnosed between January and February, and sufferers experience the holidays culminating in New Year’s Day in vastly different ways than people in the general population.
Feeling obligated to be joyful for the sake of the family can cause the person with depression pretending to be joyful and looking for any excuse to escape family gatherings. Others who have no families and have gone through severe trauma in the past may be prone to suicidal thoughts and ideation.
It is crucial to build a supportive network that will help you cope with these pervasive holiday struggles that deprive you of the joy of celebrating.
Winter Holiday Support 2022
Our esteemed partners and colleagues at The Foundation for Post-Traumatic Healing and Complex Trauma Research (d/b/a CPTSD Foundation). A 501(c)(3) Registered Non-Profit Organization have created a unique program called Winter Holiday Support 2022 (https://members.cptsdfoundation.org/winter-holiday-support-registration).
This program is free of charge; just provide your first name and email address, and you will receive one message each day—containing a video, audio, inspiring quote, or encouraging thought—providing strategies to tackle anxiety, practice self-care, and learn to set healthy boundaries.
Daily Recovery Support Goes Beyond the Borders!
Besides Winter Holiday Support 2022, CPTSD Foundation has developed Daily Recovery Support.This member-only program provides daily, interactive, group calls in a safe atmosphere, with trauma-informed call leaders who know what it means to not only survive but thrive.
Leaders include certified coaches, licensed clinicians, support counselors, and mental health advocates who have both lived the CPTSD experience and have specialized training to work in support group settings.
There is never any pressure to interact with the leaders or other members; you may do so as little or as much as you like. “Come as you are, no pressure”. CPTSD Foundation appreciates you being with them in any capacity that feels safe to you.
While this is not therapy, it is a program that can help equip trauma survivors with skills and information they can use every day in their healing. Compassionate support can help survivors exponentially as they navigate all aspects of daily life.
Just recently the program has expanded beyond the borders of the United Kingdom (UK) and it can now be joined by survivors located any and everywhere. This program takes place online at 8:00 PM London (3:00 PM EST/New York). Please check your time zone against London, UK–for example, New York is five (5) hours earlier than London.
While this program is offered during the evening, UK-friendly time zone, anyone else is welcome to join as well.
New Year, New Programs!
This new program will be specifically designed for spouses, partners, caregivers, siblings, and anyone who is directly involved with a survivor of trauma. This program will help equip individuals with tools, information, and a supportive community of others to interact with.
Soon more information will be available, but in the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about this so much-needed program for supportive partners of trauma survivors, simply register here: https://cptsdfoundation.org/partners/.
I have never liked the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. There’s something implicit in all the “New Year, New You” message that says “You’re not good enough. You should do better!”
It makes me feel bad about myself even though I believe wholeheartedly that transformation and self-love are essential to happiness.
My philosophy is built on the belief that I am (we all are) good enough – just as we are. However, sometimes we get stuck in toxic behavioral patterns that don’t serve us well. It’s important to change these bad patterns and bring out the best in ourselves – the best that’s already in there!
This work is about attending to our own needs as well as, or instead of, external expectations.
It’s about listening to our own inner wisdom. When we bring out the best in ourselves, we create the conditions for happiness and well-being to grow in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
Instead of beating yourself up for not being good enough, try practicing being kind to yourself.
A possible starting point for this is to take a positive psychology approach and pay a visit to your memories of when you have been at your best. Recall those moments when you lost yourself in what you were doing – those joyful, masterful experiences that made you feel you were born to accomplish. How did it feel?
I need to feel a sense of spaciousness and freedom to be at my best.
The personal strategies I am currently developing include:
- Creating pauses that allow me to relax
- Learning to say “no”
- Listening to my instincts
- Waiting for things (opportunities, meetings, friendships, etc.) to come to me without chasing them and without expectations of outcomes
- Looking inwardly at myself to accept who I am and change the circumstances getting in the way of my healing
Sometimes my inner voice tries to sabotage my mental health by telling me I must try harder, or that I am not good enough—bringing back bad memories. Sometimes it gets the best of me, but I know that to be at my best I need to stop rushing.
In response to PMH’s advice to “Be Kind to Yourself” I have given myself permission to seek out and do the things that bring joy and boost energy. Of course, these may be never-tried activities that I’ve always wanted to accomplish, but they have not topped my priority list until now.
I’ve always wanted to visit a famous glacier in Switzerland. Does that sound too risky, adventurous, or even obnoxious?
Perhaps, but it’s not about the fancy resort – it’s about taking the small steps toward making my dreams come true – to ski and to write. I have just booked to visit the glacier in a few months (even though the funding may or may not be there); my instincts tell me that everything will work out – and if it doesn’t, it won’t be the end of the world. The glacier will still be there. I’ll keep you posted!
Being kind to ourselves also involves learning to draw on small, nourishing moments when we’re at our most vulnerable and hopeless. These encouragements can be a kind word, a cup of coffee with a dear friend, or a walk with the dog outside in the snow. Caring for yourself so that you are at your best and most fulfilled will also equip you to better care for the important people in your life.
Many New Year’s resolutions are destined to fail unless we are willing to stick to them over the long haul. While we may lapse into old behaviors (or lose our resolve) without practice, recognize that it’s part of the process.
And when it happens, don’t beat yourself up! You haven’t failed. So what?
Just notice what’s happening and kindly remind yourself of your new intention to practice. Every time you are kind to yourself, you’ll be entering that new righteous path.
Repeating this process will strengthen your resolve until one day you’ll surprise yourself.
So, please, be kind to yourself.