Process your emotions

This month can be a hard time of year emotionally. Sure, there are lots of holiday events and family gatherings going on. But it’s those very events that can make December hectic.

Rampant commercialism (and nonstop commercials) can make us feel like we have to keep buying more and more, spending money that we can’t afford or that just isn’t necessary. Busy schedules can make household routines go out the window. And family functions or holiday get-togethers where we must interact with people we don’t see all the time, even (or especially) loved ones, can be stressful.

And then there’s the news. Devastating tragedy becomes incomprehensible so close to the holidays.

It’s easier to focus on keeping busy, crossing things off our to-do list, maintaining our break-neck social calendars.

But the tough emotions don’t go away. If we ignore them, refuse to deal with them, they simmer and fester beneath the surface, waiting to boil over at the most unexpected and inopportune times.

We strive for happiness, contentment in our lives. Who doesn’t want to be happy? But it’s unreasonable to expect that every moment must be happy, rewarding, free of strife. Feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety and anger are every bit as valid as happiness. And they need to be given their due and dealt with. Give yourself permission to do that.

It’s OK to cry or hug our children tighter when we think of the 20 Sandy Hook first-graders who will never see another Christmas. It’s OK to say no to one more holiday gathering that we are just too exhausted to fit in. It’s OK to decide that focusing on enjoying our loved ones is more important that buying one more gift that we can’t afford.

Our emotions have their own schedule, not subscribing to ours. Sadness, anger and stress come at inconvenient times. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore them. Spend time with all of your feelings. You have to.

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