Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Coping Tools for the Holidays

Holiday time is traditionally perceived as a time of joy and festivity. For many however, the holidays bring about what is commonly referred to as the “Holiday Blues”. Holiday Blues can range from mild sadness and just feeling stressed to symptoms of severe anxiety and/or depression. For many, holiday time can magnify difficulties that have been present all year long but become intensified due to the pressures of trying to promote the holiday spirit. Family/relationship issues, grief and loss, financial strain, and time constraints are common sources of increased emotional distress. Unrealistic expectations and difficulties setting healthy boundaries increase the potential of feeling overwhelmed during the holiday season.

Here are some tips to help you manage the most common triggers of holiday distress:

Unrealistic Expectations:
* Don’t expect perfection of yourself or others. Driving yourself to exhaustion will not create a happy holiday for you or your loved ones.
* Simplify family traditions that may be too much work or that are not conducive to an already hectic lifestyle.
* Prioritize invitations and do not feel compelled to attend every holiday event.

Family Issues:
* Set differences aside
* Accept family members and friends as they are, not who you wish them to be.
* Avoid using holiday gatherings as a time to resolve old and recent grievances.
* Be supportive of others who may be feeling negatively. Remember they may be experiencing the same holiday stress that you are.

Financial Strain:
* Before you go shopping, decide how much you can afford to spend on gifts or other holiday expenses.
* Stick to your budget.
* Remember that you can not truly buy happiness, love or acceptance.
* Explore ways to express holiday cheer that do not cost lots of money.
* Find ways to share expenses with others especially in regards to gift giving and event planning.

The most important thing to remember during this time of year is to be true and good to yourself. This means setting boundaries with others and making time to care for yourself. Focus on making this holiday season as joyful as possible. If you don’t feel merry for whatever reason, share your feelings with loved ones and let them know what you need from them.

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