Some of us having experienced negative childhood or adolescent experiences find the holidays difficult emotionally. This includes the high spirited 4th of July. For some it is a question of recognizing the change in life’s structure as time passes. Some changes are due to the course of natural life passages. Others are associated with health challenges, death, or financial crises. These and other issues put us out of sync with the holiday cheer and make facing the time uncomfortable.
In The Therapist’s Guide to Clinical Intervention 2nd ed (2004) by Sharon L Johnson (Acedemic Press: London) suggestions are made to consider in coping with hurt during holiday celebrations.
1. Develop new traditions but remember to have realistic expectations in setting out with this. Be aware it will not feel the same as an old tradition and it will take several repetitions before you may begin to look forward to it. This is a situation in which you have control and can make the effort to create something special.
2. Choose participation. Do not isolate yourself while your enthusiasm may wane socially. Do engage yourself. You will probably not be the only one there distracted which will help you feel better. Feel comfortable about your level of involvement. Even a little participation will lift spirits.
3. Take care of yourself. Overlook as best you can the commercialization around you. Give youself some tender loving care. Do something you have been wanting to do- a movie, a book, music, or write a letter. Let yourself know you count.
4. Talk about it. It is more common than you think. Why is this time more stressful for you? Be informed about community resoursces. If things get particularly bleak seek professional guidance. You can help yourself with better understanding, self-validation, and working through to solve problems.
5. Have foresight. Make a list of what you plan to do and what you have done in the past which helped improve your mood. Being prepared can sometimes be a large part of the battle.
Establishing new traditions is a big part of moving through change and establishing a new life. Be a good companion to yourself and enjoyment will follow.
Some local resources available should you find yourself in a crisis:
CrisisChat.org- online support approximately 12 hours a day/7 days a week.
1-877-VET2-VET (1-877-838-2887) Vets crisis hotline.
Common Ground Crisis Services- 1-800-231-1187.
Youth America Hotline- Counseling for teens by teens. 1-877-968-8459.