It’s the Most Distracting Time of the Year!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I really mean that to all, but have been thinking about this greeting for a few weeks. As I start my e-mails and phone calls and presentations with a formal acknowledgement of this bustling season, I can’t help but wonder what underlying message there is for everyone. Sure, there is a flair of joy and cheer, especially with that mandatory exclamation point at the end. But it also gives out a message of flurry, chaos and even stress. Happy Holidays Everyone = this month is crazy, my budget is out of control, the relatives are coming – watch out!

This leads me to something that has been on my mind this month – societal and cultural distraction. This season is supposed to be about family, cheer and more historically, Christ’s birth. But (and I speak for myself) my actual experience this month points more toward managing a heightened schedule of holiday parties, navigating tricky family relationships and dealing with the politics of who gets what present. It’s stressful. On an even more vulnerable note, my mind starts wandering right back to my own drive toward consumerism – “Hmm, I could use a new coffee maker!” or “Those shoes are adorable! Will they be under the Christmas tree?” Is this what the holidays were meant to be about?!

As a therapist and client of therapy, I have seen and experienced the same level of distraction and denial with mental health this season. My clients take a hiatus despite this being the most stressful and triggering month for many. And I start a juggling game of changed appointment times and cancellations with my own therapist. This is because we have all bought into the message that our mental health can take a back seat while we “survive” the holidays. The appearance of cheer and celebration drives us away from what’s really important and the true priority.

As an advocate for healing with grief and loss, I wonder how many people are suffering with a void through the holidays and are managing these feelings through consumerism and social events. I can assure you I am guilty of this distraction every single year. But there is something incredibly trite and temporary about that experience. January 5th hits and the reality of our true loss hits us like a ton of bricks with or without our new coffee maker and pair of shoes.

I have committed to talk about my real loss with my therapist and loved ones this holiday season. When I give myself a quiet moment, those feelings are more real and present than any other time of year. If this feeling of loss resonates with you, I hope you call someone for support on January 6th, or even more boldly, on December 23rd!


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