With Christmas just a week away, kids eagerly anticipate two weeks vacation and the arrival of Santa. They are filled with hope and joy. But for many of us, the thought of Christmas brings stress, angst and despair. For some it’s the excessive commercialization of Christmas, with the focus on gifts. Other people dread Christmas because of expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances with whom they don’t want to spend time. Others have suffered the loss of loved ones or maybe their jobs.
But with some practical tips, we can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays and make it through to the New Year:
Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief.
Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year.
Stick to a budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with gifts.
Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. You don’t have to attend every event. And if you do attend, set a home time; you don’t have to be the last to leave.
Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence in food and alcohol only worsen guilt and poor health. Make sleep and exercise priorities.
Take your medication regularly. Skipping or stopping medications can have serious consequences which can affect your mental and physical health.
Take a breather. Instead of rushing home from work and heading to the in-laws, take a half-hour break to unwind.
Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these persist, you need to get help from your doctor.
While following these steps may not change your outlook completely (I think you need three3 ghosts to make that transformation), but they can fuel your positive outlook and bring you some peace and joy. Try and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Take care of yourselves and each other.