We have entered the Fall Season and Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching. The Fall Season is symbolic of change. The leaves change into beautiful warm hues of orange, red, and yellow. The time to plant and grow has ended, and it is time to harvest. There is less daylight, more darkness, and the temperature becomes cool and crisp. This time of year brings our attention to the cycle of life. As the leaves fall, it is time to admire the natural descent of life. The highs cannot exist without the lows, and letting go makes way for new beginnings. Thanksgiving arrives at the end of harvesting. It is culturally branded as a time of abundance and gratitude. However, the Fall Season and Thanksgiving Day can bring a more complex emotional experience. Some people experience a change in their mood during the autumn months. The darker days and colder weather give way to feeling low energy levels, sleeping more, and losing interest in activities. Additionally, Thanksgiving Day plans and expectations can contribute to an increase in stress, anxiety, and family conflict. Here is an effective wellness tip to improve your emotional coping with the changes of the Fall Season and the stressors of Thanksgiving.
If you are experiencing changes in your mood during the Fall Season and/or feeling hijacked by the stress and anxiety of the Thanksgiving Holiday, you are NOT ALONE. The truth is, as humans, we have complex emotional experiences that we do not always know how to navigate. We can get caught in EITHER/OR thinking. We place ourselves in a binary dilemma where we are forced between 2 options: 1. stop feeling this way and 2. make myself feel something else. This dilemma forces us to choose between our emotional experiences and to shut down a part of us that we identify as unacceptable or unwanted.
The Fall Season teaches us that we do not have to hold so tightly to one way of being or doing. It gives us permission to collect what is most valuable AND to shed what is no longer needed. This Thanksgiving give yourself permission to hold space for the full complexity of your experience. Instead of asking yourself to choose between your emotions with EITHER/OR thinking, practice the gift of YES/AND.
YES, we can have a heavy heart AND hold gratitude and hope for the future.
YES, we can miss family members AND enjoy those we gather with.
YES, we can slip into old coping styles AND still be healing, learning, and growing.
YES, we can love someone without conditions AND establish healthy boundaries.
YES, we can feel anxious (scared) AND say no.
YES, we can do our best AND make mistakes.
YES, this season can be hard AND it is temporary. There are brighter days ahead.
Practicing YES/AND releases us from the constriction and entrapment of the binary dilemma. It does not ask us to shut down, avoid, or numb our experience (or parts of ourselves). The practice of YES/AND expands and makes space for the emotional complexities of the human experience. At The Relationship House we hope for you a Fall Season and a Thanksgiving Holiday filled with YES/AND!
-Sarah Plyler, MS, LMFT
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