Twelve “Hey!”s of Christmas by B. Imei Hsu, BSN-RN, MAC-LMHC, Artist
I just finished a “fun run” race in the Seattle area called The 12k’s of Christmas. People jogged, walked, sprinted, and ran either the 5K or 12K distances, replete with many zany holiday costumes, dogs, and children in strollers. With such a clever name, I got to thinking what I might like to share with my readers and our community: Imei’s Twelve Heys of Christmas. So… what’s Twelve Heys?
What’s a “Hey!”?
When I was a kid, I loved watching cartoons and “School House Rock”. These short, entertaining commercials did not sell cereals for kids or toys, but highlighted an important aspect of English grammar, American history, or mathematics. This was critical for me, because my parents were not native speakers of English. While highly educated, their English grammar was peppered with common mistakes Chinese immigrants make, their knowledge of American history contained gaps, and their expectations on my math skills exceeded my ability to execute math equations quickly without using pencil and paper. Of all the School House Rock videos, I adored, “Interjections”, and because of that video, I became acquainted with the interjection, “Hey!”
In my own unvetted version of psychological tricks and triggers, a “Hey!” moment or item is an epiphany, notable item, or good piece of advice, such as, “Hey! That’s a good idea!” or, “Hey, I’d better remember to do that or I might screw up!” In general, this kind of “Hey!” is a type of interjection I reserve getting someone’s attention for the purpose of doing something good, or directing someone away from harm.
Imei’s Twelve “Hey!”s of Christmas
Let me try to keep this simple by creating six “Hey!”s in the positive direction (i.e. “do this”) and six “Hey!”s in the negative direction (i.e. “do not do this”, or “avoid that”). All my “Hey!”s are focused on looking at our transition to the next year, wrapping up the end of this year, and improving the quality of our most precious relationships.
1. Hey, tell people who you love that you love them. Do this frequently, at will, and PRN (pro re nata, which means “as the situation needs”). [Note: I wrote this prior to the Connecticut shooting that has stunned the nation. It’s still true. Say it while you can.]
2. Hey, take the time to thank people who have helped you this year. You couldn’t have done it without them, and frankly, you might not have wanted to do it at all. Thank you’s can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes: a phone call, a card, a small gift, a foodie-goodie, or a donation to a charity made in the helper’s name. It’s all good.
3. Hey, do write a short “New Year’s Resolution” list of the top three things you want to see happen for yourself in 2013. Now convert that list from “resolution” — that is, something you are resolving to do, but won’t likely complete on a statistical basis — to lifestyle evolution, which involves make room for and adequately accommodating the lifestyle changes that will make your list move from an idea to a reality. Make each item something worth accomplishing, along with an action-based plan.
4. Hey, update your medications, order your vitamins and supplements, and gather the resources for your healthcare regimen on THIS side of the New Year, including equipment you need for your physical fitness plans, doctor appointments to refill meds for depression or anxiety, and checkups for dental, derm, and age-related care. It’s really true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And when stores are closed and medical clinics are shuttered on the holidays or weekend, you don’t want your prescriptions to run out, or your best times to seek medical attention to be filled by hundreds of others.
5. Hey, set and keep a budget for spending during the last two weeks of the year. Don’t wait until mid-January to receive credit card bills you cannot pay, or come up short for your rent or mortgage due to overspending. You don’t need that kind of stress.
6. Hey, take time out for yourself during a busy schedule of socializing. It’s OK to chill out, turn down drinks and holiday goodies, or make arrangements to skip some events in order to maintain your sanity. [I personally recommend pet therapy, like snuggling with dogs and cats!].
DO NOT do this:
7. Hey, wait until January 1, 2013 to hit the gym on your latest health kick. Besides, it’s likely closed or has limited classes that day. Get back into the gym NOW, and expect January’s gym crowd to be full of people you otherwise won’t see the rest of the year. Once they clear out because of failed resolutions, you’ll always have a free treadmill waiting for you [<– this has remained true for me every year I’ve ever been in a gym or taught in a gym as a dance fitness instructor].
8. Hey, schedule your medical, counseling, massage, and nutritionist appointments at the last minute. All the smart people already snapped up the best hours by reserving standing appointment times and popular late afternoon and early evening hours. If you want a schedule that helps you stay committed to your health, nab your most convenient hours now.
9. Hey, script and provoke family arguments in public settings because you haven’t seen your fam for months. Vacation time and family get-togethers are often too short to go deeply into long-standing arguments. Instead, consider asking specific family members for a separate time to talk. Avoid staging your concerns in public settings, where you are least likely to get your point across or listen to what your family member has to say in return.
10. Hey, avoid people at all cost. If you are feeling lonely and isolated, hiding in your home probably isn’t going to help you feel more connected to people. You’ll likely feel more sad, depressed, or disconnected from others. Instead, volunteer at a local charity, attend small community events that include some networking time and table conversations, and try finding a Meetup.com group in your interest area. Call up an old friend, and ask for some time to get together for an hour or two, while volunteering some help or service.
11. Hey, hold onto anger, revenge, and hatred towards people who crossed you until you are sick to your stomach. When a violation occurs and passes, the one who is suffering the most is the one who recreates the pain and suffering in their mind — that is, YOU. Instead, find a way to take an action that helps you let go of angry, negative thoughts, yet allows you to take an appropriate action towards the violation, betrayal, or hurt you experienced.
12. Hey, yell at people when you are frustrated and tired, because people deserve to be screamed at from time to time. OK, obviously, this is not a good idea! I am always a bit surprised how often I see altercations during this time of year — spouses bickering, a parent berating a child, a co-worker verbally snapping at another co-worker in the shadow of a looming deadline. When this kind of negativity surrounds us, we tend to repeat what we hear unless we make a conscious decision to replace environmental negativity and anger with a calm, internal locus of control. It’s OK to take a time out, take a breath, meditate for a few moments, unplug from the Internet, or step away from someone else’s “yuck”. It is OK to catch yourself in a moment of anger and fatigue and ask, “Can I/we start over again? This isn’t working for me/us.”
I’m sure our readers get the point. Have a safe holiday time, plan well for the next year, and as we wrap up the year with a one week closure from Dec. 24 – Jan 1, we hope you have a wonderful holiday time. If you want to make appointments for next year, please call us or email any of our therapists individually before Dec. 24, and we’ll be sure to get back to you promptly.
Happy Holidays and best wishes from the team at Seattle Direct Counseling!