“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer…!”
(Song by Andy Williams)
Aren’t the holidays supposed to be joyous and bright? Aren’t we all supposed to feel happy and wonderful instead of stressed out, anxious, angry, sad, and grieving? While we expect the holidays to bring about happy emotions, there are often negative emotions as well. And, some of these emotions can be overwhelming.
Negative emotions are uncomfortable and our natural reaction is to minimize and avoid unpleasant feelings. We pretend to be happy and cheery when, in fact, we are not. When we suppress our emotions we often find these feelings rebound back even harder at the most unexpected and inconvenient times.
The key to managing our emotions is simple; acknowledge, accept, understand, and express, them in a healthy manner. Whether we are stressed out, angry, or sad, we need to acknowledge how we feel. It is important to accept our emotions so that we are not running away from them.
Once we admit to ourselves, and possibly to our support systems, that we are not feeling awesome, we can work on accepting the fact that we don’t feel as good as we hoped and use this negative emotion as a signal for information. We can start to ask ourselves, “Why do I feel this way”?
Once you admit to yourself, and possibly your support system, that you are feeling negative, you can
For example, anger and anxiety are usually signals to us that something needs to change or that our well-being is threatened. These emotions are designed to motivate us to make a change. If we feel anxious about talking to our mother-in-law, maybe it’s time we change our approach to her or manage her effect on our confidence level to make the situation go smoother.
The important thing is this, we need to take action. We need to express our emotions. We can do this by talking to, and sharing with, members of our support system. We can find great relief from our emtions by simply sharing the reality of our feelings with others. Once in the light of day, we may find our negative emotions are unfounded and evaporate.
Engaging in “emotion focused coping skills” like journaling, doing art or other hobbies, and exercising are excellent tools to relieve our emotional burden.
Just remember, the holidays don’t need to be filled with anxiety or saddness or grief. But, if we are feeling these negative emotions, we have plenty of tools to help us through them. And, the best way is to begin with sharing.
Brittany Salvador is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been in the field since 2009 in a variety of settings including community, private practice, institutions, and hospitals.
Utilizing mindfulness and acceptance strategies, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy, Brittany strives to help clients develop the self-awareness and coping skills to manage problems as they arise.
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