Can someone tell me if there is a chapter in the “Ultimate Guide of Adult-ing” that outlines what we do during this Winter/Holiday Season? When does the excitement, chaos, anxiety, and endless check-off lists start for you?
Anyone care to chime in? I’ve been searching for clues to help minimize the stress levels during this Season and this is what I am learning.
To some, it may feel like a marathon, only to be greeted with a Finish Line filled with smiles, joy, tears, possible heart ache, laughter, love, connections, parties/celebrations, friends, family, expectations and food. I can only speak upon my experiences and observations, but there seems to be overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety that gets served during this Season. I don’t have any answers or quick fixes to offer, but this is what I can do, I can invite you to be aware of how all these external situations, expectations, contemplations, affect your well-being an Adult in our society today.
A Process, Not a Perfect
The real deal with Adulting burnout during the Season is that there are some things that are inevitable. The last minute or traditional planning to get together with loved ones, gathering up list after list of things to get done to make the Season better than last, making efforts to reconnect with each other which requires conversation after conversation about your life and what’s new, exciting, different. This process can be exhausting mentally and physically.
It is important to note that for children and those who continue to attend academic establishments, schedules set remind us of what cues we are looking forward to or what is approaching. Activities at school and the workplace usually dictate where we shift our schedules. After noting this, as an adult, during this Season strikes enormous responsibility to seek connections, new and old, to reunite or ignite these relationships; but what we are not shown or told to give priority toward is taking care of ourselves.
I am not saying that this only happens during this Winter/Holiday Season, because burnout happens at anytime that continues for lengths of time. For the most part, during this time of the year, there is a deep need for connection, a larger perspective of humanity that is under a microscope because we are conditioned to give and take, well more like gift and receive.
So, where does the burnout start or look like? Well, let’s focus in on how we “adult” and what is often required of us during this time. I will break it down into two perspectives: as a Child and as an Adult.
From a Child’s Perspective
With this said, and simply as an observation, society takes its cues from our children. So, no matter if you are a Parent or not, as an adult, we are held to hold some of these responsibilities or some may say obligations to keep hope alive. Where did hope and all this come from when we were talking about burnout and our mental and physical health? It comes from the core of humanity, compassion, kindness, juxtaposed with societal needs of recognition and tradition. Why should we continue to foster hope for our children and how does this tie into adulting during this Winter/Holiday Season? Well, let’s choose to see this through the perspective of a child to get a glimpse of why we are pulled by our Heartstrings to take on these responsibilities and/or obligations, to foster hope for our futures.
Do you remember what it was like during this Season as a child? Were there certain things you looked forward to, smells that filled the air, traditions and sounds that hinted to what was about to come as we end our calendar year. As a child, we often relied on the adults around us or our peers to cue us into what we are “supposed” to do. At an early age, children are conditioned to make lists of needs, wants and wishes; but are not truly given the reasons or dialogue to ask why. Religious, cultural, and traditional figures that represent parts of our society drive these needs, wants and wishes. My guess to why we do this with our children is to gain perspective and to also please our own needs to be a “better” person in acknowledging these lists set forth by our children. To nurture, to hold a space for learning, growth and innovation looks more like something we save for the children of society and very well forget to carve out this space for ourselves as adults.
As an Adult
Some adults tend to hone in on Traditional Holiday pictures which are set and ready to send to loved ones to “prove” or “show” them how you are doing and what has changed. Almost like an update of how you’re doing in life, or a physical manifestation of your social media page mailed or sent directly to people you love and/or acquaintances you happen to have their emails or addresses. This process can evoke a ton of pressure to show the world you’ve got this life thing under wraps. Very rarely do I see a picture or read an update where the raw truth comes out; but when I do come across this, I am filled with gratitude for those who have the courage to tell their truth is allowing us to see our truths as well. A possible visit to Santa for a Holiday Memory, for what’s it’s worth, our kids also go through their own mental and physical anguish during this time, but this can be for another conversation.
Focused on perspective and taking cues from the children around us, as a society, here in America, we often look to help others more during this time because we see a need to give our children hope for a nurturing, loving and compassionate space to grow. This is often shown by buying, buying, buying, and then finding places to donate toys, food, books, monetary gifts, and sometimes volunteering your own time helping out at establishments that feed our society. What we often forget to do is feed and nourish our own minds, our bodies, and our souls. For the sake of this conversation, the our souls can be the force that figuratively opens and closes your heart, the rhythm and the beats of your well-being.
The mind and body connection is a sure way to gauge our well-being. The most important thing to note is that there is no one way we “should” be feeling. We are complex, beautifully crafted human beings that ebbs and flows through life in waves of emotion, feelings, environmental circumstances and internal turmoil. Each of us unique and are often placed in categories to fulfill the need for “happiness” “success” “doing well in life”- During this Winter/Holiday Season, it almost feels like a reflective time of the year where we create these mind and body connections by cultivating kindness, compassion and gratitude. So, where is the burnout and how can we minimize the stress?
My Experience, My Practice
My own personal journey with burnout and how I minimized stress had me taking longer pauses to listen to what my mind is really saying and trying to cue into what my body needs. Figuratively and quite possibly in reality, I have been dehydrated, stretched like Unicorn Poop (glittery slime that gets on everything!), immersed into a vat of financial contemplation, cause that one thing someone wanted can provide them “happiness,” even for just that second, without mindfully listening to the dialogues in my head. This is a practice, not a perfect cause I am still learning and navigating these waves of life.
So, from my perspective, burnout looked like a major disconnect with my mind and body. In terms of disconnect, I focused on constantly pleasing others at any price, putting other people’s needs, wants and wishes before my own cause in my mind, I will be able to have time for that later, but later never comes. During this Winter/Holiday, I will choose to embrace the things that don’t go quite “right” and try to focus on spreading kindness and sharing my gratitude for those around me. Sounds like all emoji hearts and smiling faces, but it is the shift in perspective, in focusing on what I can say and do, not what others think and feel about me. What might this look like? I know that when I choose to slow down, I am able to appreciate the little things in life. With all that goes on here in California, Fires, Rains, smile, Political/Societal turmoil, and the daily-grind, having the ability to choose how you take in your environments and how you choose to respond, instead of reacting, there can be a more cohesive connection between our minds, bodies and souls.
This Winter/Holiday Season, choose to be truthful to yourself. Acknowledging your feelings, emotions, and sit with the thoughts that continue to stress you out. When I mean sit with those thoughts, I mean allow it to pass through your mind, being aware of these thoughts, but not giving them the power to consume you anymore. The practice of being kind extends to being kind to yourself first and foremost and being grateful for where you are in your life at this very moment.
Let the excitement of the Season bring you back to memories that warm your heart, sometimes remembering things as a child or now making new traditions with those you love. Sometimes during this Season you need someone to talk to…reach out and find that help, making yourself the priority because you are worth it. Smile more, Foster new and old connections by cultivating kindness for this Season and the days to follow. Let the laughter surround you, the music move you and the ones you love make your heart smile. Gain perspective and awareness, by being truthful with yourself.
Things to keep in mind and in your heart during this Season:
- YOU are good enough.
- All that you set forth, all the efforts made to help create your amazing Holiday experiences is appreciated
- Take care of yourself
- Smiles are powerful and free
- Words are priceless, write a note, a poem, words that mean something to you
- Try to be mindful approaching these Holiday Celebrations with an open heart and gratitude
- Observe your perspective and note if there is anything you’d like to make some changes in- One of our best gifts in life is the ability to be aware of our situation.
- Call a friend and really ask how they are doing 10) Connect with yourself, be truthful. Sometimes we need time to recollect our thoughts to see a clearer tomorrow.
Written by Pia Crosby, Marriage and Family Therapist, On Dec 14, 2018
Pia Crosby is licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who practices therapy with groups, couples, individuals and families for over 10 years. She has worked in several schools and high schools as a Psychotherapist. Pia Crosby believes that mental health is an integral part of the overall health and must be considered as a priority.