Coping with Holiday Stress
For many of us the holidays bring a mix of joy and stress. There are numerous extra demands at this time of year on top of those that come with our already full lives. Here are some suggestions for managing:
1) Find ways to grow your traditions. As life changes, rituals and celebrations need to grow and evolve. New family members join through divorce, remarriage or birth, adult children leave, and loved ones pass on. Creating new rituals can help to maintain connections, allow fuller participation and increase meaning. Consider sharing videos, facetiming or skyping to stay close.
2) Acknowledge your feelings. If a family member has recently died, you may feel sadness regarding their absence and not be in your usual holiday spirit. It’s normal to grieve at holiday time and it’s OK to cry. Sometimes it can help to acknowledge the deceased at a holiday meal.
3) Connect to a safe person. If you are feeling lonely or isolated, reach out to someone safe to talk with about your feelings. Research shows that doing acts of kindness for others or volunteering can also decrease feelings of loneliness.
4) Be yourself. Try to be genuine and not pretend to be cheerful or happy if you don’t feel it. Make your holiday meaningful to you. It might help to take some time during a gathering to take a break and check in with yourself about what you need.
5) Consider putting family differences aside. Differences can be better addressed at another time. Consider accepting and/or forgiving and focusing on what works in these relationships.
6) Say “No”. Holidays can bring a full schedule of activities and a long “To Do” list. Sometimes demands can be overwhelming. It’s okay to say no and focus on things you consider most important.
7) Maintain routine. Try to stick to your usual routines with diet, exercise, and sleep. These routines give all of us a sense of predictability and sameness during times of stress.
8) Reflect. Staying in touch with spiritual and/or philosophical values and offering gratitude for the gifts in your life can make your holidays (and your life) much more satisfying.
9) Ask for help. Professional help can make a big difference if you feel overwhelmed, anxious, and/ or depressed.
Wishing you a peaceful and satisfying holiday season!