For many people, the holiday season can bring mixed emotions. Although it is a wonderful time of year, there are always the potential stressors. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of family visiting, of all the cooking and shopping to be done, or the expectation for the perfect holiday. Maybe growing up the holidays were difficult, so celebrating isn’t comfortable.
The sense of urgency, the idea that time is slipping away and you have to get everything done now, can create feelings of anxiety, frustration and overwhelm. If your memories of past holidays cause you pain, you might feel depressed and anxious around this time of year.
Feeling anxious or depressed is not unusual during the holiday season. Upcoming gatherings and growing to-do-lists can cause a great deal of stress. Many of us would agree that managing mental health during the holidays can be a challenge.
Here are a few tips to keep stress at a minimum and make the most out of the end of the year.
Think about what is important to you during the holidays
Focusing on what matters the most will help you schedule your time in alignment with your values. Consider defining the purpose of the holidays for you and your family. Work on keeping family memories alive by honoring loved ones, pick a few family traditions to focus on.
Be realistic - try not to expect the perfect holiday
Many of us have an idealized version of what the holidays should be like and are very disappointed when they don’t meet our expectations. Remember nobody has the perfect holiday or perfect family.
Practice healthy habits
While it might be easy to eat and drink too much at holiday parties, think moderation and try not to overindulge. Many people end up splurging, forgo their regular exercise habits, and don’t get enough rest. These things can contribute to feeling out of balance and heighten stress levels.
Check in with yourself
Take time to pause and ask yourself “what do I need?” We can get wrapped up in the season of giving and forget about our own personal needs. Holidays are often a time when people attempt to take on too much, remember it’s OK to ask for help.
Throw guilt out the window
Try not to add unreasonable pressure on yourself to be happy or enjoy the holidays. Give yourself a break. Do your best to show love and respect to yourself to at least the same degree you are showing it to others.
Remember you are not responsible for everyone’s emotions, just your own. Certainly some situations are more difficult than others, but those situations or people don’t have power over us. Don’t let people or possessions steal your joy. Make a choice not to let unhealthy family dynamics stop you from enjoying the holiday season.
The holidays only come once a year and are over in a flash. If you listen to and tend to what you need, you’re better able to help others with their needs because you are healthy and strong enough to do so. Remember you don’t have to take on all of your problems alone.
At Pathways Counseling Services, a Scottsdale based practice, we offer individual, couples, and family counseling sessions. We can show you simple to learn and highly effective tools and techniques. Get started today by scheduling an appointment online or call our office at 480-235-1682.