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  • feedwordpress 14:00:45 on 2016/12/23 Permalink
    Tags: , Blues, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown Christmas, Depression, , Holiday, Holiday Blues, Loss, Sadness   

    How to Ease the Holiday Blues 

    “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” – Charlie Brown in Charlie Brown Christmas

    Charlie Brown immortalized the uncanny dissonance of the holiday blues in this classic Christmas tale. I first heard about the holiday blues when I was working at a psychiatric hospital in Cambridge and my colleague said to me in September: “These beds will all be full by the beginning of December”. I thought it was strange that at a time centered around happiness, fellowship, harmony and family, people find themselves lonely, sad, depressed — even suicidal. Clearly, the holidays are laden with expectations – expectations that have been built upon a foundation of years of nostalgia or, alternately, disappointment.

    While some of us look forward to the holidays, others dread the impending stress that comes from overdrinking, overeating and over consuming. Many of us remember those who are no longer with us — family members who have passed, marriages that ended, and relationships that have been severed. Holidays propel us back into old family conflicts which faithfully resurface each year, which can deepen our sadness and unease.

    Here are some ways you can lighten your expectations and ease the holiday blues. They are a holiday offering for you. Pick and chose as you like, rather than another dreaded list of to-do’s that you must get done by the year’s end.

    Reassess your priorities

    As the year closes, we feel pulled by an array of demands: attending office parties, cooking elaborate meals, traveling and spending beyond our means. What would actually bring you the most pleasure this holiday? Make a list of your holiday “shoulds”. Get inspired by Ellen Burstyn’s “should-less” days. See if you can cross off at least two or three items from your list.

    Then, make a new list – of things that will bring you meaning and pleasure. How can these two lists be combined? For instance, if you want to reconnect with old friends but you are planning to cook a complicated meal to impress them, what if everyone brought a dish, instead? Collaborate with family and friends by letting them know how you feel about the holidays – you may be surprised to find they feel the same way – and together, find creative ways to ease holiday anxiety.

    Give to those who need it most

    The old adage is true: there is nothing that makes you feel less alone and less unworthy than to help others. For years, when my children were young, we would volunteer in a soup kitchen on Christmas day. The holidays offer so many opportunities to give to the community. And you will find that your act of altruism has the benefit of making you feel better, while also creating a sense of meaning that cuts through the superficialities of the holiday season. Here’s a list of possibilities for helping others in New York, or to find opportunities in your area, a quick internet search should lead you in the right direction.

    Surround yourself with your family of choice

    Many of us do not spend the holidays with those that we love the most. What I seek in the holidays is gathering, conviviality and warmth – a beating back against the cold through the fellowship of others. Create a place where you can be with those who accept you, free from judgment and awkward political conversations. If you feel isolated, far from your family, have a gathering of “the exiled and orphans.” This kind of fellowship brings great solace during the holidays.

    Find some time for spiritual introspection

    When I lived in Jerusalem, despite being Jewish, every year I would pick a different church to attend midnight mass. Regardless of your religion, being in a room where songs are sung, candles are lit and humans gather together can be uplifting, helping you to shift your focus from doing to simply being.

    How are you handling the holidays this season? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. 

    The post How to Ease the Holiday Blues appeared first on Esther Perel.

  • feedwordpress 15:00:29 on 2016/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , Dan Savage, , Excitement, , Holiday, Mistletoe, , Playfulness   

    Flirting Under the Mistletoe 

    During the holidays my husband and I always have a crazy schedule of parties and obligations. We get dressed up and spend more time out together than we do all year, but December is a tough time to actually connect with one another. How can we enjoy each other this exhausting season?” – Sari, 45

    Everyone remembers the moment when you were standing in a crowded party and you made eye contact with someone standing across the room. The electricity. The frisson. The delicious possibility of circling this attractive stranger the entire evening. You looked up, then looked away. And so it began.

    The word “flirt” comes from the French word “fleuret” — in English translation means “foil” — one of the three swords used in fencing. When using a foil, points can only be won using the tip of the weapon. To flirt is to play with the tip of the sword. To tease. To gently touch. To tantalize. It’s about playing with possibility, not going in for the kill.

    You want to see flirting in action? Watch *this.

    This dance piece of human’s imitating animal mating rituals shows us the active game of give and take that is flirtation. It’s called pacing in the animal kingdom. Humans do it too. We advance and withdraw. We circle. This is an essential, playful ingredient of seduction and excitement. It is about possibility. Anticipation. Fantasy.


    With a long-term partner, it can feel as if the dance is over. However, we can bring back a sense of excitement and anticipation to our relationships. But we must do it with intentionality. No different than the intentionality that lurked behind the first glance. Here’s a little menu of ideas to create space for flirtation. Pick one you like, and give it a try this month.

    Think of the whole evening as a canvas for seduction  

    Even though you may know the outcome, there are so many ways to be playful with each other through the course of the night.

    • Make a playful pact not to talk or touch for part of the party, only to make eye contact.
    • Send a suggestive text during the course of the evening. It’s all about talking about sex, without talking about sex. Hint, allow the anticipation to mount, and stoke curiosity — refrain from throwing the idea of sex onto the other person’s face.
    • In lieu of departing for a night out from your home together, drop a note that says, ”I saw you in the elevator, has anyone told you how bright and piercing your eyes are? If you are available this evening, I will meet you at 8pm in front of [Fill in the blank of the address of your event].” And meet there.
    • Introduce yourself to your partner at the party, as if you are meeting them for the first time. Remember, you cannot be self-conscious and play, so really go for it – give your best acting 101 performance.  

    Break your own rules

    We experience freedom when we break rules. Any small incursion into the illicit and the transgressive with your partner can be really enlivening.

    • Let go of guilt and don’t follow the typical schedule for the day or the evening ahead. Leave the party early and get a drink together on the way home.
    • Close the bedroom door after the babysitter arrives and dedicate the beginning of the evening to each other. Then go to the party late.
    • Skip the event altogether, and go for a walk instead.

    Flip the script

    Columnist Dan Savage often recommends couples to “fuck first.” You pick out the perfect outfit, bake the cookies, buy the wine with a matching bow, and travel to the event. After hours socializing, stuffing yourself, and drinking, by the end of the evening, the last thing you want to do is seduce your partner. Instead, get intimate before leaving the house, so you’re energized and avoid performance anxiety and disappointment if nothing happens when you get home.

    To make this season more enjoyable, remember that anything that takes you out of the predictable or introduces risk or disobedience, opens the door to pleasure. Happy holidays.

    Are you struggling to connect with your partner during this busy season? What was flirting like in the beginning between you and your partner? Leave a comment on the blog. I would like to hear your stories.

    *I have no connection to this company, do not endorse the product – but enjoyed this artistic interpretation of courtship.
    Image Source: Cab Calloway

    The post Flirting Under the Mistletoe appeared first on Esther Perel.

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