Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 1

For many, the holidays truly are the most wonderful time of the year—a time of gathering with family, being close with loved ones, revisiting old memories, and making new ones. The title of this post and my post last year notwithstanding, I love the holidays, as I have many fond memories of being with my family around our Christmas tree as a boy. Being with family and friends is still deeply meaningful to me and to most of us.

 

However, starting a few weeks before Thanksgiving and throughout December, I frequently hear of anxiety, frustration, and even dread this time of year, because just as it’s a time of gathering with family and being close with loved ones, it’s also a time of gathering with family and being close with loved ones. Visiting family can be wonderful indeed, but if we’re honest, the holidays can you drive you crazy. Why is this, and what can you do to make your family time merry and bright?

Minding the Present Moment

Happy Labor Day, everyone! For most of us, a holiday like this one is a wonderful chance to be with family and friends, but I wonder how often we pause to truly live such moments. If the pandemic of iPhone-induced poor posture is any indication, many of us find minding the present moment challenging sometimes. We find ways of detaching ourselves from our thoughts, feelings, and experiences—our subjectivity, often without even knowing it. We are sometimes unwitting accomplices in our own lives passing us by, which is unfortunate because being aware of one’s own subjectivity is crucial to emotional well-being. How can we live more fully, then, by minding the present moment?

3 Ways to (Really) Have Happier Holidays

It’s that time of that time of year, isn’t it? Christmas is fast approaching, and for many, the nor’easter of financial stress, family conflict, and migraine-inducing holiday preparations is becoming more intense. As the lines at stores get longer, the holiday travel more hectic, and the planning for festivities more frantic, St. Nick is the only one who’s got time to check his list twice. Amidst the yuletide chaos, much of the holiday spirit is lost, so much so that we frequently speak of Christmas as a season that must be “survived” or “saved.”

On (Emotional) Shackles & Freedom

Today, of course, is the Fourth of July, the holiday during which America remembers its adoption of the Declaration of Independence on this day in 1776. We celebrate that after declaring our independence from Great Britain, we at last gained hard-won freedom after the long years of the Revolutionary War ended in 1783. Though that war is over, Americans still battle in many conflicts throughout the world.

 

A different kind of conflict, however, churns within each of us, regardless of nationality: Each of us fight for our innermost desires and longings to be recognized and understood in our most intimate relationships.

Your Need to Be Emotionally Intimate with Your Partner—And Your Need Not to Be

Have you ever wondered why people seek intimacy in relationships? What is it about emotional intimacy, anyway? Why is feeling connected with a deeply loved partner so much better than just about anything? As a marriage counselor, I know that partners in an intimate, committed, long-term relationship yearn to know and to be known by each other, and yet for so many couples, such intimacy is elusive. Why is cultivating this kind of connection so hard? Because as much as you want to be connected and close to your partner, intimacy is also profoundly frightening. To understand why, we need to consider our need for intimacy first.

Piglet on the Couch: Anxiety as Inner Conflict

Some months ago, I stumbled across “Winnie the Pooh,” a 2011 film featuring many of my favorite childhood friends, while wading through the vast waters of Netflix’s streaming library. My delight upon being reunited with these characters inspired me to integrate my training as a therapist with my affection for Pooh and his friends by writing about Eeyore, Ashdown Forest’s sad, gloomy, and lethargic grey donkey. In that post, I explained that depression results from one’s inability to manage depressive feelings.

Eeyore on the Couch: Depression & How Therapy Can Help

A few months ago, I was surfing the vast wave of entertainment in my Netflix streaming application when I discovered a veritable gold mine of nostalgia: “Winnie the Pooh,” a 2011 film featuring many of my favorite childhood friends. In the long years since I had last seen them, I was delighted to find that Winnie the Pooh’s appetite for honey had not waned a bit, that Tigger was still nearly manic with unbound energy, and that Piglet was still occasionally conquering his fears despite being a “very small animal.”