The Emotional Wave of the Holidays

This has been a very different year. Covid has impacted our lives in ways none of us could have imagined. Now that the holidays are here, we won’t be going to the usual parties and we may not be able to travel to celebrate with our families.

For many, the holidays can be an emotional time and with the added constraints of the pandemic, this year may be even more difficult. This season that typically represents family time, may bring up feelings of sadness, aloneness or other unpleasant emotions. Perhaps we feel we didn’t have the perfect family growing up or we currently don’t have the family situation we desire. Or the holiday season may be a reminder that someone we love is no longer with us.  For you, it may be something different.

In situations like these, we are having a human experience; and when these feelings come up, we can’t always, nor do we want to, negate them.  What we resist persists.  When we try to shut down these feelings, we often hold our breath and feel constricted. If strong feelings arise and you feel the need to cry, make sure you are “releasing” and not “rehearsing the story.” By this, I mean just “feel it.” Do not rehearse or relive how hard the experience was.

Psychologist Dr. Joan Rosenberg explains that a feeling is a 90-second wave.  It builds to the peak and then calms down all within 90 seconds.  If you are grieving, which could be from a loss of any kind, there may be waves of waves.  Dr. Rosenberg shares that feelings “are not negative, just unpleasant, because we don’t like the sensation they cause in our bodies.”  Whatever you are feeling, notice where it sits in your body and how it feels, then surround it with love.  She says we want to give ourselves full access to these feelings because at the other end of the spectrum—the alternative—is anger or being shut down, both negative emotions.  When we allow ourselves to feel the full range of this wave, we are able to experience the pleasant feelings at a higher magnitude.

Notice, if an emotional wave is over coming you, how you react. Do you distract yourself to not feel it?  Do you launch into negative self-talk?  Do you eat, shop or make a phone call? It is best not to respond or take action when we are at the peak of a wave. Let the wave pass.  If the waves keep coming, Dr. Rosenberg suggests that you ask yourself, “Is there something that is unresolved here?”

If you feel any unpleasant emotions during the holidays, give yourself permission to “feel it” fully; acknowledging that the wave will pass within 90 seconds.

My wish for you this season—no matter how you celebrate the holidays—is to put your attention on all the wonderful things in your life and enjoy yourself.

From my heart to yours,


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