Are you finding yourself a little lost after the holidays? Do you feel like everyone around you is motivated to work on their new year’s resolutions while you are suffering from holiday whiplash?  All of the anticipation leading up to the holidays can leave you with quite the hangover regardless of or in addition to your use of alcohol. This is a common experience. Maybe you had the most exciting holidays where you were surrounded by love and appreciation. Afterward, you hope it will continue but everyone goes back to their daily life and you feel as if it were fleeting and fake.  Maybe you had expectations to feel more love than during the rest of the year and are disappointed at the lack of reconnection with loved ones.
 
After you return to your routine, mixed feelings may develop after putting away the holiday decorations. You may be thinking what do I have to look forward to next? The focus of the last few months was excitement and preparation for the festivities ahead. While you were home for the holidays, you were reunited with your old home/lifestyle/world.
 
Even if your new life was starting to feel normal, coming home from your childhood home, or family time elsewhere, may bring up a lot of conflicting feelings about being caught between these two worlds.
           
Common responses may be:
  • Nostalgia while being at home and wondering why you left
  • Having to explain your life choices to people from your past who do not understand
  • Regret over losing touch with others
  • Constant comparisons between old and new friends
  • Questioning your upbringing and everything you used to know as normal
  • Do you feel guilty for spending too much money on gifts for yourself or others?
  • Are you worried about what you have to look forward to next?
So what do you do to get through it? 
 
How do you make sense of all of these questions and conflicting feelings?
 
The New Year can be a perfect opportunity for you to work on merging these parts of yourself that feel so separate. Rather than the standard resolution list making that may be short lived, complete this exercise to foster a more congruent sense of self for long-term growth.
 
Exercise
 
Draw two large circles overlapping so that there is an oval in the intersection in the middle.
 
Create a title above each of the circles to label these two worlds.
 
Write down all of the things that you can think of that fit into the old world/home.
  • The traditions your family has to celebrate the holidays
    • Do you discuss this history of your celebration rituals?
    • Types of food from your nationality
    • Spiritual or religious upbringing
    •  What activities do you do together?
  • People from your past
    • Important teachers or role models outside of your family
    • Friends from each stage of your life
    • Did you reconnect with anyone important?
    • Or feel disconnected from someone and miss being with them over the holidays?
    • Have you lost someone close to you?
  • Confrontation with struggling relationships
  • Memories that stand out to you
  • Important locations you visit or just holds special meaning for you while at home
  • Pictures or songs that bring you back to your old self
 
Now do the same with the new world. 
  • New people you have met
  • Your current hobbies
  • Coping skills to deal with stress
  • Places you frequently go
  • Support systems
  • Significant relationships
  • Parts of yourself that were fostered by the changes you’ve made
  • Goal you have for your future
  • Accomplishments
 
Where the circle overlaps, write down the aspects that connect the two worlds.  Now create a title for the middle. 
  • Characteristics about yourself that you have shown both past and present
  • Values you hold
  • Supportive people
  • Decisions you made to move you from one world to the other
    • Taking a new job
    • Moving to a new city
    • Breaking up with a significant other
    • Opening yourself up to a new relationship
    • Getting involved in more social events
  • Coping skills to deal with the discomfort of change
 
This exercise helped you make meaning out of your life that may feel disconnected or contradictory.  It is common for the stress of holidays to intensify emotions and relationship dynamics.  People who move away from home or make a big change in their life may struggle to combine the aspects from their new and old worlds.
 
This struggle may impact you so much that it prevents you from cultivating a more enriching future. If this resonates with you or the holiday crash seems to last longer than a normal lull, call the Center for Growth to get set up an appointment with a therapist who can help you. 
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