Falling Joy
Pumpkin spice season is well under way.  People are counting down the Fridays till Christmas and putting up their decorations before Thanksgiving.  Everyone seems eager to celebrate, but not you?

For many the holiday season brings joy, but for just as many the holiday season is a reminder of loss.  So while others’ joy is rising, your joy is falling.  

We want to say, we see you.  We know this feeling, we’ve felt this loneliness and we see you.  

As your friend, If I were with you right now I would hug you.  As your resident recreational therapist, I have a couple suggestions as we proceed into the holiday season.  

Suggestion #1: One of the best things to do right now is to name the feeling, name the loss, identify your falling joy.  

Be open about your feelings with your family and friends.  When they ask you how you are, tell the truth! Too often we answer, “good” or “okay” and go on with our day.  For me, holding my truth back just makes me more exhausted and the path to falling joy accelerates.  The more of us who speak our truths only helps to start normalizing the importance of emotional health.

So tell people, “I always miss my mom this time of year,” “the holidays have been hard for me lately”, “I’m working on getting into the spirit of the season,” or whatever is your truth.  

Then when people say they are sorry or awkwardly respond, speak more truth.  Tell them what you do that helps.  “My sisters and I are making plans to be together,” “I do enjoy baking, I’ll be doing that this weekend,” or “Getting together with my friends helps, would you like to make plans to go to dinner”?

Speaking your emotional truth can be freeing but it can also catch you and others a bit off guard.  Take the time to think about how you are truly feeling and what you would say so you are prepared.  

Suggestion #2: Schedule an extra counseling appointment.  My employer has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).  It’s a benefit that gives me four free counseling sessions each year.  I’ve seen a counselor off and on over my adult life.  I use my EAP program because mental health is important.  Somehow it is less valued than physical health by mainstream society.  I’m not sure why.  We go to the doctor annually for check-ups and physicals.  We should go annually for emotional and mental health check-ups too.  Even if we aren’t dealing with a crisis or emotional hardship, getting in to see a counselor periodically is good mental health maintenance.  

If you do see a counselor regularly or periodically, if you know that the holidays are lonely and challenging for you, go ahead and add another appointment to your schedule.  Be proactive about working with your emotions.  Yes, I said that right, work with your emotions.  Don’t deal with them, work with them so you can work through them.

Suggestion #3: Make a plan to insert more opportunities for joy.  Make a list of activities and people that help you feel better, safe, and connected during the holidays.  For me, I like baking good food.  I enjoy admiring the changing leaves.  I like browsing the stores with a Starbucks praline latte.  I like sitting in front of the fire watching Hallmark Christmas movies.  I like visiting family.  I like pajama days, reading books and eating chili.  

What do you like to do?  What makes you feel better this time of year?  Don’t wait for things to spontaneously happen or people to call you.  Step out with a plan.  If you wait and don’t plan then when your free evening arrives it feels too late to ask anyone to do something and like too much trouble to get the ingredients to bake and you will end up doing nothing and feeling disappointed.  

Your joy may be falling, but it doesn’t have to plummet.  Keep going.  Keep seeking joy.  There is a path for Rising Joy too.

Want to get more suggestions and inspiration for seeking joy this month?  Click here to subscribe to receive our emails.  Let this be your first step at being intentional.  Already on our list? Great! We have an email series you'll get this month on ideas for finding joy during a time when if feels like it's falling.


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