The holiday season is meant to be joyful. Spending time with family and friends, holiday shopping, and party planning can bring positive thoughts and feelings for many people. It can often bring unwelcome guests - depression and stress. Even the fun activities we plan can present a dizzying array of demands such as cooking meals, shopping, cleaning, and entertaining. And this is saying nothing of the impact of Covid, which is absolutely impacting our experience this holiday season.
With some practical tips, you can help minimize some of the stress that come with the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you could.
It's important to acknowledge your feelings.
It is normal to feel sadness or grief if someone close to you has recently died, or your life has changed in some day, or if you can't be with loved ones for other reasons. It's important to express your feelings and take time to process what you're experiencing. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season, nor should you try. Learning to process and cope with your feelings will help move you toward the mindset and heart space you wish to be in.
Reach out to family and friends for support.
Seek out community, religious, or other social events or communities if you feel lonely and isolated during the holidays. Support and companionship during tough holiday experiences can't be emphasized enough. These areas of support may have websites, online support groups, or virtual events that could provide guidance. If you're feeling stressed during the holidays, it also may help to talk to a friend or family member about your concerns. They're likely feeling similarly and can help provide you some much needed empathy and compassion.
Volunteering your time or doing something to help others is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your relationships with others. Holidays are great for giving back, and focusing your energy on others should help. Simply dropping off a meal or dessert at a friend's home during the holidays or helping at a holiday food drive can provide some ease from difficult emotions.
Be realistic about how the holiday time is going.
The holidays don't need to be perfect. They can't be. They also don't need to be as successful as previous years. Families change and grow, just as traditions often change, so choose a few to hold on to and be open to creating new ones. Allow for other traditions to need to wait another year until Covid is less of an impediment to doing what you typically look forward to each holiday season. If your relatives can't come to your home this year, find new ways to celebrate together, such as video chatting or social media. You can always find ways to celebrate even though your holiday plans may look a little (or a lot!) different this year.
Learn to say no.
Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed if the stress of the holidays is looming. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every gathering or activity. If it's not possible to say no, try to remove something from your schedule to make up for the lost time.
Don't let the holidays become something you dread.
Take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a breakdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find more peace and joy during the holidays than you may have assumed.
If you can’t find results on your own, we encourage you to seek professional help. Clarity Counseling Seattle is here to be that help...let us know if we can be in touch.
And the Clarity team wishes everyone safe holidays this year.