Nostalgia overtakes our city during the holiday season

Our fair City of Angels is known worldwide for its fabulous entertainment industry, its gorgeous weather, and its diverse commerce and trade enterprises. Many of us who live here, however, mostly know L.A. as a city of transplants. Many of us were born and raised elsewhere and have moved here in order to find a culturally-tolerant environment, an opportunity to freely express ourselves, and/or a place where the sun always shines. During the holiday season, the sun shines a little less. And despite the wonderful friends and family we’ve created here, many of us can’t help but get a bit nostalgic about the place where we used to celebrate our holidays as kids or adolescents. Something about the change in weather, the change in rhythms of light and dark, and the small yet perceptible shift towards more quietness in the streets, just brings about this reflective spirit for many of us. This increased quietude often allows some memories and old thoughts to surface.

Cuddling inside nostalgia can invite some feelings in

Many of us find ourselves cuddling inside our nostalgia, fragments of memories, familiar sensations of cold and heat (physical and emotional) during this season. This might in turn create an emotional journey where we come in contact with memories we’ve long forgotten, feelings of grief over lost and gained holiday emotional weight, fears and excitements about the new year, etc. Sitting next to your window, looking at the grey sky, you might invite some feelings in that the more bustling, sunny, full-of-activities season of summer hadn’t necessarily given us access to. For some, these are the stories we carry inside about how stressed our parents were during the holidays, twirling around their homes and their jobs in an effort to do everything perfectly. For others, it’s feeling like you and your family were the only ones without a tradition to speak of, feeling a bit of outcasts in your own community. For others more, it might have been a time of grandiose planning for the new year with your tight-knit family, and not having them around you during this time to share your enthusiasm is painful and lonely.

Some ways for us to self-care this season

When some nostalgia and potentially painful feelings come up during this season, we can turn to loving and not overly-complicated ways for us Angelenos ((and everyone else, for that matter :)) to take care of ourselves:

  • Give yourself the gift of mindful breath. Although our city is known for its smog, we still gotta breathe, don’t we? So taking a couple of intentional breaths while releasing our face and neck muscles is a simple yet effective way to be there for yourself. 
  • Take some time to make a list of everything you miss about the holiday season in your home town/s and everything you don’t miss that comes to mind. In other other words, sink into the nostalgia that this season often brings up, and allow yourself to grieve some of the losses you’ve experienced by moving here as well as the gains. Just a simple put-it-on-paper activity can help us really be present to what we are mourning and celebrating this season! 
  • Read a poem about a topic that is dear to your heart. As a believer in the power of the written word, I can attest that 40 seconds of reading a touching string of words about compassion, fear, ambition, uncertainty, breath, etc. is a feast for your eyes and heart. Just type “poem about ________ (type in your topic of choice)” into your search engine and enjoy. If you’re not a poem person, either just give it a shot or instead, watch a favorite song on the power of words and rhythm never fails.
  • Take yourself to the Peace Awareness Labyrinth (located at 3500 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018) for an hour of meditative walking. Mindful and simple walking worked for our grandparents—can’t hurt us, can it?
  • Give. Whether it’s an hour of undivided attention to a friend in need, a walk with a shelter dog, or some of your hard-earned money to a cause that resonates with your values.

If you’re inspired to give but are blanking on what and to whom, here’s a great way to both give and get this holiday season:

WILA recently teamed up with Dr. Christina Iglesias, who designs fantastic tote bags that promote mental health awareness (and also hold your holiday grocery purchases!). Dr. Iglesias and #TherapyisCool donates to WILA a portion of the earnings from each tote bag sold. This means that by purchasing one, you both get a fresh new item for your use and both give to an essential cause—helping us to continue providing quality affordable mental health care to our community in L.A. If this cause speaks to you, click here for your purchase and donation!

  • If you need someone to witness and to process with you some of the memories and feelings that you encounter this season, do not hesitate to reach out to us this season. Pursuing psychotherapy is a beautiful way to give yourself the space to process some unresolved emotions and to tell some meaningful stories. Give us a call at (424) 371-5191 or contact us here for more information.

Happy and Self-Caring Holidays!