‘Tis the Season

by Stephanie Koutsoukos

With festivities fast approaching, have you considered how you will approach the end of the year? Habitually, many individuals set goals or spend hours prepping for gatherings with loved ones and friends. Knowing that you may not be in close proximity of those you care for this year can really dampen your outlook and create further stress. In a world where there are many things we cannot control, it is an important time to reflect on what intricate, positive changes we can make for ourselves during this busy time. Read further to find out a few ways you can lighten and brighten this season.

  1. Acknowledge your needs

When there is an endless list of things to do and they all seem to be due at once, it is vital that you take a step back and review what you actually need. I know what you’re thinking! Do I need that extra glass of wine? Perhaps not… but I am not referring to self-indulgence. In my work as a Counsellor, it is often that I meet people who forget to consider what their needs are, or have perhaps never had this question asked of them before. We all have emotional needs which become more prevalent at times where we may experience stress, anxiety or depression. The key is to recognise your own warning signs as to the fact that your needs are not being met, and then actively work toward meeting your needs. For example, you may find that you work longer hours than you would like, have difficulty saying ‘no’ to others, or avoid spending time alone in fear of becoming overwhelmed. If you notice that you engage in any of these behaviours and that your mental health is impacting your life, it is a great opportunity to reach out to a Counsellor and explore this further.

  1. Review your expectations

Our past experiences have the power to influence our feelings, thoughts and behaviours. We may hold onto roles that we play within our families, workplaces or social groups, which stunt our own personal growth and create high expectations of performance from us. We are human and prone to error. We are human and require time to rest, re-energise and review our lives and the roles we play in them. Perhaps you feel as though you have been holding yourself to an unrealistically high standard when it comes to producing projects at work, or organising festive gatherings. Checking in with your expectations of yourself and whether they feel appropriate for you, can be a great way of reviewing your expectations during busy periods. Identifying where change is needed allows you to begin constructing boundaries to ensure that you have the safety and freedom to live a full and happy life (which is what we all want during this chaotic time!).

  1. Engage with gratitude

The last year has raised physical, emotional and psychological challenges for everyone in different ways. You may be tempted to compare your own grief to the experiences of another. Minimising your own experiences and maximising the experiences of others may seem trivial but this behaviour can be deeply damaging to your psyche. Your pain is no lesser than another’s and is as unique as you are. It is part of our genetic makeup that we develop ways of coping that may or may not be healthy, for us. It is also part of our makeup that we are a species which adapt and change due to our environment. You may be experiencing suffering, though it is important to remind yourself that this is a moment of suffering and that this moment will not last forever. There is beauty in the world and if we open ourselves up (even just a little) enough to connect with nature or another, we may be pleasantly surprised by the healing that we can experience. Taking the time to reflect on who and/or what we are grateful for, whether it be moments of peace, or connection, allows us to offer ourselves a gift that can only be given to and from ourselves.

If any of the above content has brought up anything for you, I encourage you to reach out to support that is readily available. If you would like to explore further with a Counsellor, Breathe Counsellors have availability in-person and online to see you.

I wish you a safe and Merry Christmas/ festive season, and a well transition into the new year!

Stephanie Koutsoukos

Breathe Counselling