The holiday season is supposed to be a time of happiness, but for many, it is far from this. Unrealistic expectations, loss, and painful emotions can make this time of year sad and stressful. Here are a few ideas that may help you minimize your stress.
Identify and acknowledge negative feelings
If you feel emotions such as sadness, anger or depression, begin to note the source. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones during the holidays, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take the time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
Often we create an expectation that everything has to be perfect. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. We may not be able to prepare meals or host like we use to. We often can fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other family or friends. If you are hosting, delegate the menu and ask for help to set up and or cleanup. Prepare early to reduce last minute stress. Give yourself permission to accept new traditions. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. If your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
Have a budget
Much stress doesn’t show up until the New Year when credit card and bank statements appear. Prior to spending set a budget on both food and gifts.
Here are some alternatives:
- Have fun making homemade gifts
- Start a family gift exchange
- Give to a charity in someone’s name
Set aside differences
Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed, chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
One of the best ways to counter negative emotions is taking your attention off yourself and reaching out to others. Many charities could use with either your financial and or volunteer support to reach out to those in need. Reaching out may be as simple as writing an encouragement note to a friend who also may be hurting during this season.
If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, church or other social events. They can offer support and social interaction.
Put yourself first
This may sound selfish but it is important for your emotional and physical health to take time for your needs.
Don’t abandon healthy habits.
Just because others are indulging be focused on practicing discipline. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Here are some suggestions:
- Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
- Spend some time alone reading.
Learn to say no
Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends, neighbours and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or social activity.
Seek professional counselling
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling depressed or stressed this holiday season, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last contact Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County who offer professional counselling services in Barrie, Bracebridge, Collingwood, Midland and Orillia.