Feel like you’re still recovering from last years holiday season? The holidays, known for their shopping, cooking, family, and travel obligations, often leave people more stressed than joyous. People develop idealized images of what the holidays should be like based on past experiences and pictures presented by the media.
Holidays may bring up strong memories of past celebrations or people who are no longer with us. It is normal to feel some sadness and this can be intensified when it appears that everyone else is happy. Even the holiday joy, which seems to surround us with lights, music, and other seemingly happy people may make us sad.
What can we do?
• Plan a special ritual to remember times or people that were special to you. You might go to a place that reminds you of that time or person. Perhaps take a dedicated walk in the snow and allow yourself to feel what you need to feel.
• Avoid getting into the trap of feeling like you are the only one feeling lonely. Then think about volunteering or doing something special for others who may not be as fortunate; nursing homes, shelters, and hospitals are good places to start.
• Try to remember the religious and spiritual significance of the holidays. The church is a good place to find social support and you may get a chance to spread it yourself.
Time and Money.
Time: The common complaint of not having enough time in the day becomes more frequent around the holidays.
• Simplify, Simplify, Simplify. Write out fewer cards; email or send newsletters. Pick up deserts at a favorite bakery rather than pushing yourself late at night. Sure the personal touch is nice but it loses its significance when you end up feeling too tired, stressed, and irritated to enjoy the rewards.
• As the holiday schedule becomes hectic it is easy to let a regular exercise routine slide. Don’t allow this to happen. Instead examine your obligations and priorities. Keeping close to a regular routine will lessen the impact of holiday chaos and minimize post-holiday let down.
• Schedule time to do nothing. Unplug your phone, delegate responsibilities. Take a bath, read. Don’t have the time? You will actually become more efficient if you refresh yourself.
Money: If there is ever a time we are we need it is now. As if our own dreams we not enough we are constantly bombarded by images from the media of what we need.
• Keep the financial pressures at bay by planning a budget. Know your spending limit. That means adjust your spending to the amount of money you can afford NOT the other way around!
• Head to the stores armed with lists. Avoid last minute splurges out of desperation.
• Remember the purpose of giving and the message you want to send. Inexpensive personal gifts are more meaningful and often more appreciated than ones with a hefty price tag.
• Telling ourselves that we “need” something often helps to convince ourselves that we can not live without it. Ask yourself is this really something I need, or do I just want it.
Remember, food affects your physical health and mood. Overeating is an acceptable and often encouraged tradition during the holidays.
• Plan ahead for how you will handle the pressure to “go on and have another.” Consider bringing a lighter alternative to a holiday party such as a veggie or fruit plate. Others will likely appreciate the option too. If you slip don’t give up completely. Tomorrow is another day!
• Limit alcohol, and caffeine…that means chocolate as well as coffee, tea, and soda. Both of these will affect your sleep and mood. Consider bringing a sparkling juice or special punch to the festivities.
Thinking about all of these things may make you feel overwhelmed already, but relax. You can enjoy yourself; even have a good time. That will be more likely if you remember to manage your time and money, get exercise, proper nutrition, and don’t forget to relax.
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