I, like so many others, am grateful for many things this holiday season. My health, my family, my friends, my job — so much to appreciate. The last 12 months have been long and required a lot of soul searching and gut-wrenching honesty — and that’s separate from my weight loss journey. In the last year, I’ve dealt with divorce, job loss, moving and financial challenges. I’m in such a better place today than I was a year ago, and for that I’m exceptionally grateful. Not only is my physical health significantly improved, but so is my emotional health.
So, if that’s the case, why have I been so weepy for the last two weeks? I have asked myself this question over and over again. The best explanation I can come up with is that while I’m happier than I’ve been in years and have more confidence in the direction of my life, it doesn’t take away the pain of the last year. One friend in my Weight Watchers meeting reminded me that, with time, that pain will lessen. I know she’s right — but getting through it is the challenge. Because, until I get through it, I have to think about it and deal with it. And, when I get really emotional, I have less control over my eating and that’s not OK with me. I’ve worked too hard and come too far, especially with the turmoil of the last year, to allow my focus to falter.
I know the holidays can be tricky for many and I wanted to share some thoughts that are helping me, on the off chance they might help you too.
Be grateful for what you have — Don’t spend time lamenting what you don’t have, or thinking about what you wish you did have. Be present. Enjoy the moment and cherish all the good. Find the silver lining in the storm cloud. Tell the people who matter to you why they are important. Focus on that. Really focus. Repeat it over and over in your head or out loud if you have to. It’s part of the process. It will help improve your mood; I know it works for me.
Do something for others — Another friend at Weight Watchers suggested doing something for others — it could be very simple, like writing a note to a friend or family member about how grateful you are for them; calling a friend to find out what’s going on in HER life; visiting someone who isn’t well. Changing the focus from what is troubling you to doing something for others helps pass time and redirect your thoughts. It’s almost like pressing a “pause” button on your emotions. It’s not about suppressing those emotions, it’s about learning to cope so you can continue living your life. There will be more of those challenging moments, but having a supply of things to do when feeling melancholy will help make getting through the difficult moments easier.
Give yourself permission to be sad — You have to feel your emotions. It’s worse to bottle them up and bury them deep inside you. It’s OK to feel rotten and weepy and annoyed. BUT, the key (at least from what I’ve discovered) is to learn to continue living your life and try really hard not to displace your emotions on other people. This is SO hard sometimes. Be prepared to apologize — a LOT — to the people you love who bear the brunt of your emotions. My apologies are usually choked out with the tears that come when I realize what I’ve done. And, those apologies are ALWAYS accepted. It’s OK. Be honest with yourself and your people. They understand and will have your back — that’s why they’re your people. And, they’ll help make you feel better, too.
Get your thoughts out of your head — I find that writing helps me sort out the feelings in my head. If you could see the number of half-written blog posts on my computer. Some make no sense. Some feature run-on sentences I should be ashamed of. But, more often than not, just writing down the thoughts in my head — even if I don’t do anything with the information — gives me the peace of mind and soul to continue. Find the outlet that works for you. Maybe it’s painting, drawing or playing an instrument. I also like to knit. I often joke that I have ADD when it comes to knitting because I have so many projects in process. But, for me, the act of starting a new project helps me continue moving forward and pushes the heavy thoughts from my mind. Sometimes, I might even initiate a tickle fight with my girls. They say laughter is the best medicine, right?
I, truly, am so grateful for the life I’m living. I have a sister who is also my best friend. My daughters make me proud every moment of every day. My eyes leak just from thinking about how amazing my parents are and how fortunate I am to have them. I can count on my friends — they are inspiring, kind and thoughtful people. Even with all the challenges the last year has brought, I would do it all the same way again in a heartbeat. I’m counting my blessings this holiday season. I hope you are too!
How do you manage the emotions of the season?