The holiday season is usually filled with great anticipation. This season is globally associated with happiness, harmony, celebration, and sharing. Nonetheless, despite the intensity and euphoria generally lived in the festivities there’s the other side of the coin: the felt pressure in the preparation for the events and gatherings; the shopping fuss; wanting to correspond to other’s expectations, and the need to everything to be just perfect. Besides these collateral pressures, we still have to consider situations where family gatherings are anticipated with fear or grief — especially when these connections are painful or non-existent. Furthermore, this time of year can also be used for slowing down, reflecting, and rebuilding, and sometimes, with these reflections, we can realize that the desired plans and wishes for the past year, ended very far from our resolutions.

The holiday season nor in everything nor for everyone are a walk in the park, even though we feel, deep inside of us, it should be.

We are living challenging times. All personal, interpersonal, economic, and even geopolitical changes and consequences we have been experiencing since the pandemic, can, on one hand, serve as a motivation to cherish these moments, but, on other hand, can also lead to this bitter thought that the world is not (or we are not) where we feel it should be. For a lot of people, this time of the year is perceived as an end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one, but there are some very stubborn cycles that are not ready to close yet, going against the charged expectations of “New year, New life” that we all know about (and we also know, that sometimes, the mother of disappointment is expectations).

If we think about the Christmas Blues, we can see how all of this applies. Christmas Blues is usually associated with a deep sadness that was already there but is exacerbated by this season — negative life events (a loss, for example) are more intensely lived, and one of the reasons for that is the social pressure for happiness and socialization that this time of the year is known for.

Feeling apathy or frustration during the holidays is normal and should not be perceived in a judgmental way. As the Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, wrote “Há beleza o suficiente em se estar aqui e não noutro lado qualquer”, which translates to “There’s enough beauty in being here and not somewhere else” — we can live this season in our way, even if it’s not the way other people do it — we are still living it. Creating our own traditions is also celebrating. Deconstructing the usual Christmas or New year expectations as the “perfect time”, helps us avoid creating excessive and unnecessary pressure on oneself. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be yours!

This time can also be used to reflect on what we did or didn’t do during the year; what we want to maintain or change in our life’s. Even during this reflecting, we should have in consideration that having realistic resolutions is the first step for them to be accomplished. Wanting to change everything, here and now, can lead to frustration when things don’t go perfectly (and we know, they usually don’t), resulting in letting go habits we were really motivated to maintain.

Besides writing realistic resolutions lists, we should also reflect on all the victories and wins of the past year, so we can trade from our usual critical filter (especially critical towards ourselves) to a more adjusted one. What if, instead of, New Year, New Life, we start by New Year, Different Life?

We are always moving and changing, and certainly, there’s always small or big victories to cherish (having a good day; connecting with a new person; having a professional breakthrough; receiving positive feedback; nailing that receipt and cooking an amazing meal; a tight hug). Remembering these moments is also celebrating. Taking our time to reflect on what we are grateful for, is also celebrating. Being gentle towards our emotions, with comparing or judging them, is also celebrating. Having self-care activities in these harder times, is also celebrating — especially when we don’t feel like it. And we don’t have to!

Being, feeling and trying to appreciate small moments of this holiday season, is more than enough!

We wish you a serene time (at your own pace and disposition!)

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