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The holidays are upon us. Some of us are excited, and some of us may have some trepidation about the inherent stressors related to preparations, selecting and shopping for gifts, expenses, and visitations. At this time of the year, there is also awareness and grief about loved ones no longer with us, and yes…some challenging relationships that are still with us (OH MY!).

Make your own plans to create a delightful November and December season for you and those you love to be with.

No matter your traditions, this is possible to do. It is part of my re-defining and re-designing your life philosophy.

First of all, block negative thinking and anticipating about negatives that may or usually occur. Reset your mind about the joyous sharing you plan to create and smile inside and out.

Even when loved ones are no longer with us at the table, decide how you choose to remember them and carry on the gifts they possessed and left behind for us.

This is not easy to do at all. I know this all too well. After the death of my mother when I was a child; the death of my father when I was an adult; the death of my surrogate brother and then the death of my son just three years ago, the holidays were never the same. I take the sorrow that still rises to the top and go and join myself with other loved ones with whom I get to laugh and love and exhale. Making a choice to do this is the beginning and/or the continuance of the healing process.

I am not defined by grief, I am defined by the love I got from each of them.

Regarding the visitations you attend out of obligation, more than for the joy of sharing. Muster your positive energy and go in a spirit of grace.

Be determined not to engage in negative conversations. Just smile and say Uh Hmm! Keep the visit short after a respectful passage of time. Grouchy, complaining, and judgmental people often need some company. They too need to know that they matter to someone. Muster your compassion and be a gift to them for a while and then give them a hug and wish them well as you depart.

Now go and join the laughter.

If there is no apparent place to visit, do something different like going to a concert, join some new acquaints, volunteer to serve on food lines for the homeless, or help pass out gifts for children and youth whose parents are incarcerated. These types of holiday season activities fill a void inside of us with such joy…

This season is always significantly impacted by compounded responsibilities of work and caregiving.

During the season there are increases of distress and grief-driven behaviors especially among our at-risk client and patient populations. For many in the helping profession there is also the likelihood of increased intakes; increased caseloads. This is a factor that significantly adds to the concerns/pressures/ critical incidents /etc. we experience in our service and caregiving.

Condition yourself by daily carving out several moments to decompress, release, reboot, and recharge yourself.

Connect with your therapeutic community, your orchestra people, your accountability partners, your creative friends, your spiritual community, your joy crowd if you will.

Write some uplifting activities in STONE so that you know these activities will happen.

What is also important here, is that you have these plans to look forward to as part of your “mental /emotional shifts” on those days that are particularly difficult. If your days are not particularly stressful, great! You have simply added fuel/reserves of energy. Again, I urge, make a determined decision to create calm, peace, joy, and laughter for yourself.

I am wishing you an abundance of peace, laughter, and joy.

-Beverly

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