by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghNovember 20, 2023 christmas stress, counseling near me, counseling pittsburgh, holiday stress, holidays, holidays stress reduction, pittsburgh, pittsburgh counseling and wellness, stress, stress and the holidays, thanksgiving, therapy pittsburgh0 comments
The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of joy, happiness, and togetherness. However, for many individuals, stress and the holidays go hand in hand. The societal expectation to embrace merriment can paradoxically result in heightened stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Despite the common portrayal of the holidays as universally cheerful, various factors contribute to a more nuanced experience. Nevertheless, there are proactive steps we can take to support ourselves and others during this complex time.
Perfection Expectation: Stress and the Holidays
One of the main reasons why the holidays can be challenging is the expectation of perfection. We’re bombarded with images of perfect families, perfect decorations, and perfect gifts. It’s easy to feel like we’re falling short, especially if we’re dealing with difficult family dynamics, financial problems, or simply don’t have the energy to create the perfect holiday experience. This pressure can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and a sense of inadequacy.
Socializing Struggles: Navigating Isolation During the Holidays
Another reason why holidays can be tough is the emphasis on socializing. For people who struggle with social anxiety or who don’t have a strong support system, the holiday season can feel incredibly isolating. We’re told that we should be spending time with loved ones, but what if we don’t have anyone to spend time with? This can be particularly challenging for people who coping with grief during the holidays, such as the death of a loved one or a breakup.
Financial Stress: The Weight of Holiday Expenses
The financial burden of the holidays can also be a significant source of stress. We’re told that we need to buy gifts for everyone on our list, and that these gifts should be thoughtful and meaningful. For people who are struggling financially, this can be an impossible task. It’s easy to feel like we’re letting people down if we can’t afford to buy them the gifts they want or need.
Supporting Each Other: Honest Conversations and Compassionate Actions
So, what can we do to support ourselves and others during this difficult time, easing the burden of stress and the holidays? One of the most important things we can do is to be honest about our feelings. It’s okay to admit that we’re struggling, and to ask for help if we need it. We can also reach out to others who may be struggling and offer our support. This could mean inviting someone over for a holiday meal, volunteering at a local shelter or food bank, or simply checking in on a friend who we know is having a tough time.
Embracing Imperfection: Redefining the Holiday Experience
It’s also important to remember that the holidays don’t have to be perfect. We can let go of the pressure to create the perfect holiday experience and instead focus on what’s truly important: spending time with the people we love. This might mean scaling back on gift-giving, simplifying our holiday traditions, or simply taking a break from the chaos and spending some quiet time alone.
Ultimately, the holidays aren’t always merry, and that’s okay. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges that come with this time of year and to offer support and compassion to ourselves and others. By focusing on what’s truly important and letting go of the pressure to be perfect, we can find moments of joy and connection even in the midst of difficulty.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 14, 2019 conflict resolution, making up after fights, pittsburgh counseling and wellness, relationship resolutions0 comments
When couples say that they have conflict or problems with communication they really mean that they have a trigger topic that is non solvable or that they have different ways of managing conflict. This causes their disagreements to have a fire or ice quality. I will describe each of these styles and inherently none of them is worse that the other, but depending on what your partner’s style of conflict is, they can lead to further issues.
A fire conflict style describes a person who may boil over quickly. Like fire they are quick to heat. When something triggers a person with a fire style in conflict their irritation will rise. They will likely seek to discuss the issues, sometimes in a way that causes greater conflict if they use criticism or demandingness instead of softer and mindful approaches. Often a person who is fire in conflict can cool down as quickly as they become enraged and then be glad to act like nothing ever happened. While it is definitely not recommended that a couple have big disagreements and not process them, the person with this style of conflict can be fine with their ups and downs. If two people with a fire style end up in a pair, they will likely have many heated quarrels that have passion and intensity. Words can be said that end up hurting, perhaps even threatening to end the relationship leading to a make-up break up syndrome. Let us also distinguish this from physical or emotional abuse. While those types often have a fire quality, they exhibit a much more serious pathology which should cause the victim to seek safety and law enforcement. Let’s explore more about what can happen if a fire and ice person are in a pair.
Persons in the cool state and of the ice style of communication may take quite a long time to boil. They tend to try to avoid conflict at all costs, sometimes minimizing disagreements and quarrels. When this style is a little bit more on the spectrum of cool avoidant they may purposefully not share details that they fear could lead to conflict. Often and ironically this can lead to conflict. They remain relatively externally cool during disagreements, but this doesn’t mean that they are not having emotional reactions on the inside. I have seen many people in this state be hooked up to an oximeter and their heart rates are cascading over the thresholds of 120. In any event, from the outside, the person appears calm and maybe even rigid in the way that they are not communicating. The fear with this conflict style is of course that important conversations don’t happen. Without talking about important issues they may miss chances for their partner to understand their needs and what is important to them. When this style of conflict communication exists alongside a fire type there may be misunderstandings where the fire person feels that the ice person is avoiding their feelings and doesn’t care.
Both the fire and ice communication styles will benefit from a conflict management plan. A plan for conflict implies that disagreements are not inherently a problem but aims at tackling issues in the relationship that can cause small issues to become much bigger. It also brings awareness about how emotions play into their disagreements and what to do so that there is a smaller likelihood that trigger topics spiral out of control.
In love and wellness,
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