As the Holiday season quickly approaches, please remember that you are not alone. You are not alone in your memories of those prior holidays that may contain mixed emotions. You may have grieved losses this year – of family members, relationships, or items that somehow became magically lost. You may have gained the knowledge that life is neither as certain nor as safe as you thought. You are not alone.
Holiday activities and responsibilities, both real and imagined, require our time, money, and emotional energy. They are a “memory investment” for our future storytelling times – an investment that yields, all too often, bittersweet results. While enjoying many aspects of the season, there may be moments when we wish we had more time to prepare for the emotional stress of the holidays. Below are strategies for maintaining your sanity during this time of year.
Accept People for Who They Are
You desire acceptance for who you are. No one changes just because it’s the holidays. Put your energy and time into those whose presence is their best gift to you.
The Past is Past – Remember to Focus on What’s Happening Now
Give yourself permission to stop dwelling on the past and be grateful for all that is positive in your life. Create a “bucket list” of all of the things you want to do and then check off the items that are most important.
Take Care of Yourself
We should do this all of the time, but it’s especially important to get enough sleep, to eat right, and to get some exercise every day when stressed. Self-care is not an “extra,” even though it may seem to take too much time. Time invested in yourself each day will more than pay off in your general sense of well-being throughout the season.
Everything in Moderation
Be mindful of your personal boundaries and limits for purchasing gifts, alcohol, sweets and stress. Listen to your own good sense and you’ll avoid waking up with regret.
Stick to Your Budget
The financial stress of the holidays can make you wish the whole holiday season could be ignored. However, it’s important to remind ourselves that overspending is not the only way to express love. Gifts that are made by the giver often are more meaningful and treasured than anything that comes from a store. Spending quality time with someone is often the best gift of all.
Reach Out to Avoid Becoming Lonely
Being alone, far from family or without one during the holidays is a key source of stress for many people. Connect with others and plan some activities that celebrate the season. Get into the holiday spirit by volunteering. Being in a festive atmosphere with other good people who are doing good work is a great antidote for loneliness.
Initiate Random Acts of Kindness
Get into the season of giving. Be generous. Helping others may make you feel good, or at least, better than you had expected.
Research has shown that taking the time to be grateful every day has enormous physical and mental health benefits. It helps build our immune systems, keeps us in touch with the positive aspects of life and connects us with others. Try keeping a holiday gratitude journal. Write down at least three things you are grateful for each day.
The holiday season doesn’t have to drive us insane. We do have the ability to bring down the stress and bring up the joy. After all, the best gift we can give ourselves and those around us is our own peace of mind!
By: Abbe Gorberg, LPC, RD
Wake Forest Counselor