It is a common experience to feel excited and hopeful as we anticipate the coming holiday season.  This is often a time for family gatherings and much needed break from your daily activities.  Yet also many people find that they have some hesitations and worries related to the holidays.  It is easy to find yourself dreading the potential difficulties and pressures of all the festivities.  But you don’t have to let that keep you from having a positive and joyful season.  

These three simple steps can help you to navigate holiday disappointment. 

Feelings of disappointment are a common experience whenever we we spend time preparing for and investing our time and energy.  This is directly connected with why we often notice feeling some waves of sadness after a big event or celebration.   Completely avoiding feelings of disappointment may not be plausible, there are some key strategies that can be helpful to help you know how to move through moments of regrets and disappointment in these key moments.

Holiday Resilience Step 1: Notice your Needs

Notice where it is that your mind is going as you anticipate your holiday events.  Is it the worry for what gift to get you in laws?  Or maybe it is the fear for what your family may say about your new relationship?  Whatever it is that you find yourself feeling most worried and stressed about can be a clue into what it is that you value the most.   Knowing what it is that you care most about can be helpful to use as a tool to be able to create a plan for where you may find both joy and disappointment.  Maybe it’s the joy of getting someone just the right gift, but on the other side is the feeling of disappointment when someone doesn’t respond with exuberance at the gift you give. 
Name and recognize what it is that you are hopeful for can be a helpful practice to use to help you in the moment of disappointment. It can be the moment that you are prepping potatoes for your new potato casserole recipe and you notice this wave of fear for how your aunt might critic your dish. By simply naming this fear in the moment can help to be a safeguard for if it does happen that you receive some critique of your culinary delight.  This simple step is like putting in the fire extinguisher into your kitchen.  Knowing where it is, and thinking about how and when you will grab it and use it before you need it can actually help you to stay calm and in control in a moment of crisis.  By naming the worry can help you to set up your own internal “crisis plan” that can help you to have a plan that can help you stay in control rather than responding in a way that you later wish you hadn’t.  

Holiday Resilience Step 2: Schedule a self-check throughout your holiday week.  

We can often find ourselves in full on go mode throughout the holidays.  But this can disrupt our emotional “barometer” that normally helps us to notice feelings of sadness or stress.  When we are unable to notice these feelings in small waves and instead just keep pressing forward, there is this tendency for these feelings to erupt in a way that feels bigger than we may be ready to hold.  We find ourselves erupting in anger or frustration at our spouse or boss.  Or we suddenly want to just shut down and disconnect from everything.  

But a better way to deal with these feelings is to embrace and hold them in small intervals without being overwhelmed by them.  

Setting up a time to do a small daily check in each day can be really helpful.  Maybe it’s as you are driving or just before you settle into bed.  Ask yourself:

How am I feeling right now?  

What has gone well today that I feel proud of?  

What moments were not as I had hoped?

These simple reflective questions can be a really clear way to let yourself feel and notice disappointments and to choose how to proceed.  This keeps you in a place of control and regulation.  It may be impossible to avoid moments that were less than we had hoped but it doesn’t have to be impossible to notice these feelings so that we can then decide how we may want to respond or proceed.   Delight and disappointment are natural in moments of celebration.  Allowing yourself to be able to regularly find time to notice each of these can help prevent these from moving into a place of deeper pain.

Holiday Resilience Step 3: Give yourself a second chance. 

The holidays can feel extra difficult simply because there is so much expectation that is placed within a few short days or weeks.  Whenever we come to a moment that feels like there is high expectation and pressure for what and how things may go, we are bound to find ourselves frustrated and overwhelmed.  Neither of these are places where we are grounded and connected in a way that presents our best self.  Reminding yourself that this is a big day or a hopeful moment is delightful, but it is equally important to allow yourself the space to think about how this is not the only big moment or last chance.  Thinking about how you will get another time to connect with these friends or that there can be a chance for a follow up conversation after a tense moment with a close relative. This can help you to stay present and engaged in enjoying the moment without feeling an undue pressure to have to get it right. We would easily offer someone else another chance at making up for a less than perfect moment.  Which is often exactly what we need ourselves.  

The holidays are a time of great anticipation which can include great waves of joy and excitement.  Yet mixed within this can be sadness and disappointments.  Whether these disappointments are felt toward ourselves or a sense of disappointment toward others, being able to notice and respond to these feelings can help you from being overwhelmed in a way that has you missing out on these moments that matter to you.

While it may be true that feelings of sadness and disappointment may be inevitable, being able to know how to prepare and respond can keep you feeling in control and connected to your best self this holiday season.  

Finding a someone to help you be able to move through the difficulties of the holidays may be helpful.  Reach out today to schedule a consultation call so we can together find out how to help you navigate feelings of disappointment.