Merry & Bright, Or Not?

Guest Contributor: Jodie Buonopane Freid

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The chaos of the holiday season, paired with life’s unexpected twists and turns for many, can make the whole idea of “Merry & Bright” feel like a farce.  A sheer Christmas song can send tears rolling down anyone’s cheek.  A whiff of your favorite soup your grandmother used to make can slip you back into sorrow.  A depleted guest list for your holiday dinner might feel crushing or embarrassing.  Negativity and sadness speaks to so many people during the holidays, and it often goes unnoticed…or even worse—judged.  

Whether it be a family conflict, illness, or grieving the loss of a loved one, suffering can pinch harder right now. Life’s challenges can be a tough lump to swallow and because of that, it can be awfully hard to contain this time of year. The obligatory cheerful socializing with others (whether it’s strangers at the store, family, friends, colleagues, bosses, clients, or neighbors) can negatively influence your mood.  People are more vulnerable during the holidays, and this is understandable.

If you are lucky enough, however, to have an elevated spirit this time of the year, it’s important to recognize that you might be sharing the holiday at some point with a friend, coworker or family member who isn’t able to “be okay” right now.  We must remember that no one is immune to life’s realities, and tucking them away for the sake of everyone else isn’t always a possibility.  

Life does not pause and emotions do not go into hibernation just because “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” came on the radio. So how can you have a holly jolly Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, or a peaceful kwanza, if you’re not feeling merry and bright?

It’s up to all of us to make sure that we first and foremost take excellent care of ourselves holistically. From there, you will be most capable of spreading your love, light, and kindness to others from a place of empathy and healing.  

Self-care is tremendously important, especially during the holidays, and I encourage you to make your own personal wellness (physically, mentally and emotionally) a top priority as we leave 2017 behind us.

A few self-care tips to close out the year:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Take time for yourself to do something that makes you feel GOOD.
  • Process your own emotions, talk to someone you can trust.
  • Keep grievances for another time.  If you haven’t aired them yet, do it privately, not in a group setting.
  • Be considerate, you never know the battles that someone else is fighting behind closed doors.
  • Slow down and be genuinely grateful for the positive things in your life.
  • Don’t take everyone’s emotions personally, while support is important, being a punching bag is not your responsibility.
  • Do not offer your parenting advice to your daughter-in-law (she’s got this).
  • Practice respectable personal boundaries.
  • Make your to-do lists ahead of time and keep them visible.
  • Choose smart times of the day to shop or do it online to save yourself the headache.
  • Try something new to relieve stress and anxiety (i.e., place a large grocery order with Peapod, it’s worth the extra $10 fee sometimes).
  • Ask for help when you need it, rather than blow up later about things that could have been avoided.
  • Say “No” (you don’t have to go to everyone’s house in one day).
  • Spread the holidays out over more than one day.
  • Don’t stretch yourself too much financially, follow a strict budget and stick to it. Your bank account will thank you in the new year!
  • Remember that gift-giving is not a competition (a small, thoughtful, and/or homemade gift exhibits love just the same as any other, and they’re often more appreciated).

Most of all, follow your intuition, remember your worth, and treat others with the same kindness and compassion that you would hope for from others. 

May your days be Merry & Bright year round and never forget, Love is all around us.

About The Guest Contributor:

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Jodie Buonopane Freid is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor living and working outside of Boston, Ma.  Jodie is in private practice specializing in women’s care and general adult mental health.  Whether in the trenches of parenthood or not, Jodie’s passion lies in supporting women to remember that they matter, too.  Self-care, mindfulness, relaxation and stress reduction, exercise and nutrition, and teaching ways to improve sleep are her areas of passion and expertise.  Jodie is also a mother, wife, and animal lover who enjoys spending time with her two boys, making art, being outdoors, and taking care of her four pets (a dog, two cats, and a Russian Tortoise).  Jodie spends her “me time” doing pure barre, growing her practice, and writing or creating something!

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