Most adults have a love-hate relationship with the winter holidays. If they have children, there's lots of work to do. If they have no children yet, they may be wishing for the ideal partner, or for children to come on the scene. If their children are grown, the home can feel empty. If parents have passed on, grief can appear out of nowhere. Some can feel bitter about how life has turned out, or about religion, or even the fact that there may or may not be a Santa Claus. For everyone, the new year causes one to assess the past and hope and plan for the future.
The holidays are also times when people come face-to-face with their own limitations. Some people can't say no to Christmas cookies, despite a history of diabetes or a diagnosis of obesity. Some people can't say no to wine or spiked eggnog, despite the calories, the addiction, or the inability to control mood. Some people want the courage to stop smoking around relatives who smoke like chimneys. And some are afraid of catching Covid -19 and/or bringing illness to the elderly people in the family.
It seems no matter who you are now the holidays can be as stressful as they can be fun and satisfying. Hypnotherapy can help neutralize uncomfortable emotions, set realistic boundaries and envision reasonable goals for the future. It can also help people lead an authentic life, and embrace the habits that promote health and well-being. Hypnotherapy can actually help you achieve your New Year's resolutions, and explain why those resolutions have been so difficult to manifest in the past.
With the holidays upon us, and time running short, what are some tips for happiness during what are literally some of the darkest days of the year?
1. Play the observer. Simply observe, without judgment, your own behavior and the behavior around you, remembering that others are experiencing the same stress you are.
2. Take time into account. If you are getting together with relatives or friends you have not seen in a year or more, remember that a lot of water has gotten under the bridge since then. Such a person may be very different, and yet, if you expect them to act the same as when you last saw them, you could be in for a surprise. Ask questions, especially about health and well-being.
3. Eat and drink moderately. Both alcohol and sugar can alter perception as well as mood. Most people are paying attention to what they eat and drink more than what you are eating and drinking. I remember being in my 20s and struggling with staying sober at parties when another young lady told me that she just gets a glass of wine and holds it in her hand and never drinks from it. She said very few people ever called her out on it. She looked like she was participating in the fun, but she was awake the next day with a clear head.
4. Of course, there are situations in which relatives – perhaps those who have a particularly strong affinity for a certain type of food and drink – will demand that you imbibe. In these cases, it's best to let them know in advance that you won't be drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or whatever. Let them know it's OK for them to do it, that you have nothing against it, and that you're just cutting back for your health. Letting them know in advance, gives them a chance to plan, to not put a wine glass at your place, for example, or buy what they thought was your favorite alcoholic beverage.
5. Be generous, but stay within your budget. If you have self-control issues with money, it might be best to leave a credit card at home, if you're going out to a restaurant, for example. Bring cash and pay attention to the prices of items on the menu. That said, don't be Mr. Scrooge. The holidays are a time when you show appreciation, and the goodwill you extend will come back to you in some other form later in the year. So, enjoy giving.
6. Practice gratitude and self-love. This might seem a little New Age-y; but if you do it with gusto, it really works. If you're getting together with relatives who have hurt you, there's still a lot to be grateful for: your life, the air you breathe, the food you eat, and being a stronger, smarter, better person than you were last year. You can be grateful that you recognized the hurt and were able to heal.
7. Dress comfortably. Some people feel pressured to dress up, to put on the dog, and impress others, especially if the event is related to work. The fact is if you are uncomfortable, you could feel anxious and resentful, and not enjoy making the contacts and connections you came to the event for in the first place.
8. Do self-hypnosis. If you haven’t had a session, you may wonder exactly what that means.
Basically, self-hypnosis has the same stages as hypnotherapy. Before you begin, decide on an affirmation that represents your goal and an image to go with it. For example, if you want to avoid gaining weight over the holidays, you might say, “More and more I easily and naturally sense my calorie intake and stop when I feel full.” The trick to a good affirmation is using only positive words. So, for example, if your goal is to not yell at uncle Henry when he makes fun of you in front of your girlfriend, avoid “I won't yell at uncle Henry when he's a jerk.” Instead, your affirmation should stay positive. Something like, "When Uncle Henry teases me, I naturally chuckle and walk away.”
Once you've got the affirmation, induce a relaxed state. You can easily do this by inhaling through the nose and breathing out slowly through the mouth several times. Then, say your affirmation out loud, or inside your head, several times, taking care to visualize the success.
The trick here is to be emotionally involved. You've got to believe, even know, that you can succeed. Then, when you feel complete, or when time is up, count yourself out, by counting from 1 to 5, and then say, “Fully alert.”
It's that simple.
However, if you're having a hard time getting through the holidays, putting the holidays behind you once they're over, or achieving an important New Year's resolution, do book a session. I work on Zoom as well as in person in Santa Fe.
Want to learn more?