Healthy for the Holidays

Holidays represent different things to different people. For most, a wide variety of emotions unfold. Some greet holiday time with eager excitement; others, with anxiety driven anticipation. Self-reflection may help reveal questions and answers that can lead to greater awareness, appropriate preparation, and a more joyful experience. There are many types of self-reflective questions that help identify and clarify our hopes, dreams, and goals; they may even help guide us so we can have greater control over the reality that follows. Here are a few examples of questions that can help you embark upon a self-reflective journey before the holidays arrive.

How do I feel about hosting vs being a guest? Why do I feel that way?

This may lead to clarification, from your perspective, on the tasks/pressures/pleasures involved with each. For example, you might discover that hosting represents sending out invitations and taking responsibility for all preparations including food (and related preferences/sensitivities), baby-proofing the house (for guests who bring toddlers), making sure the temperature and lighting around the table is appropriate for elderly guests and those with limited eyesight, etc. One or more of these may be your passion; alternatively, one or more may bring you stress. Being a guest may involve responding to invitations and may include choosing which to accept and which to graciously reject.

How do I feel about the guest list? Do I prefer to make it or be on someone else’s? Am I including people (or accepting an invitation) through social obligation?

You may discover your passion – or, you may learn you feel stressed about one or more of these. Deeper reflection surrounding such ideas may help further clarify your stress/passion surrounding the holiday experience. You may even learn more about why you feel the way you do about another person. Asking additional self-reflective questions may include the following.

Why am I uncomfortable around this person who seems to be easy going and/or the life of other gatherings I’ve attended? Do I feel jealous or threatened?

You may be one who prefers to keep a low profile, and perhaps that particular person’s energy overpowers you. In this case, you might attend the gathering but remain physically apart from that person. If, however, the distaste for a particular member of the family creates such tremendous anxiety that it keeps family members from getting together and/or puts a strain on one or more family members who otherwise enjoy holiday time, a professional mental health provider might be able to assist by facilitating the healing necessary to turn holidays into a harmonious experience for all.

Whether or not you or someone you know is a role model for countless admirers, most people find it helpful to use this filter before speaking: “Is it kind, necessary and true?” Using this filter may help when trying to decide whether or not to say something. The guide is: Choose not to speak if the answer to any of these is “No.” This informal rule may help when in conversation with another – especially when that person is grieving the loss of a dearly adored relative, friend or family pet. For those experiencing loss, holiday time may intensify the grief.

Since the “Holiday Season” is filled with so many mixed vibrations – both positive and negative – it helps to have a few handy tools to help keep balanced before, during and after. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to look forward to each gathering with comfort, confidence and the ability to bring wonderful, healing vibrations to the celebration? If you are interested in learning more about how to neutralize anxiety, dissolve guilt, and provide peace and comfort to guests with whom you come into contact, you might enjoy the presentation entitled “Family Healing . . . in Time for the Holidays” on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Pawling Free Library.

Dr. Nancy Iankowitz is a board certified family nurse practitioner and Director of Holistic and Integrative Healing LLC. She is also host of “Marcy’s World”on Pawling Public Radio. Email your questions to: For more information, call (917) 716-6802, or visit online.