“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” Garrison Keillor
This time of year seems to magnify all the stresses and emotions of everyday life. We are bombarded with additional tasks and expenditures. Everywhere we turn are the images of the “perfect holiday”. These images of the perfect family and perfect holiday serve to remind us of people that are not with us or loneliness that we already feel.
So what can we do to combat these feelings? How do we get through the holidays without falling into suicidal depressions or running ourselves so ragged that can barely stand by the time it is over? How do we enjoy the holidays?
Plan ahead – plan your holiday shopping list and set aside specific days for shopping. If you can get some of your gifts online that saves a lot of time running around. If you participating in planning a party or taking food to a party plan out your work ahead of time including a full shopping list. This will save the last minute stress of running around getting supplies, food and ingredients.
Budget – Do not spend more than you can afford. If you are on a tight budget consider making something as gifts. Family and friends would rather have your company than see you financially burdened trying to pay for gifts.
Don’t Over Indulge – Allow yourself some holiday food fun. But don’t overdo on the sweets and cheese and drinks. Before going to a party, eat a healthy snack to help you feel full and keep your energy up.
Take time for you – Find something to reduce your stress and clear your mind. Maybe take a walk, get a massage, yoga, meditation, read a book. Have a cup of tea.
Acknowledge Feelings of Loss or Grief – If you have lost someone or can’t be with loved ones during the holiday it is healthier to allow yourself to feel sad than to try to force happiness.
Get plenty of sleep – It is tempting to stay up late partying and getting things done but you will actually be more productive during the day if you have enough sleep.
Laughter – Laughter reduces stress hormones and helps immune cells function better.
Be Willing to Say No – The holidays bring on many extra social obligations. It isn’t necessary to go to every party you are invited to. Trying to do too much just leaves you feeling overwhelmed and resentful.
Acceptance – People don’t always live up to your expectations, especially during times of stress like the holidays. Be patient with family and friends. They are probably feeling the same pressures that you are. If you have a grievance, set it aside until after the holidays.
Aromatherapy – Citrus is shown to relieve feelings of stress and boost your mood. Try scenting a handkerchief with essential oils and keeping it in your pocket or handbag to take short whiffs of during the day.
One last thing. If you need professional help, seek it. Do not let depression overwhelm you. You do not have to go it alone. If you find yourself so depressed that it affects your daily activities talk with your physician or mental health professional.
**Credits on photos:
Laughter photo provided by Laughter Party on the Phone with Laughter Yoga Leader, Celia. You can join her Laughter Parties for free Monday-Friday 10:11AM Central Time. Party lasts 30 minutes. Call 605-475-3200. Enter code 523391*. Photo taken by Julie Henshaw.