Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Tips for Keeping the "You" in Yuletide

The holiday season is not just a time for traditional festivities, merry making, good will and celebrating with loved ones. For some, it's the loneliest time of the year. For others, sadness of missing a loved one or recovering from a life-changing trauma tinges the season. Many fall into despair as self-reflection takes hold, measuring past accomplishment and failures. And then there are those who begin a downward spiral into the depths of depression.

Worries about job security, foreclosures, the ailing economy, and everyday living can make us all vulnerable during the holiday crush. Here are some tips to help you move through the holiday season as stress free as possible.

"You" Alone

Combat loneliness. To offset social isolation, take advantage of free holiday activities. Participate in community events like tree or menorah lightings, free concerts, food or clothing drives, holiday banquets or community brunches.

• Be proactive. Don't wait to be invited somewhere. Invite someone over.

• Create new rituals. If old holiday traditions are no longer possible to do, find new ways to celebrate the season. Invent new rituals, traditions or remembrances.

• Take Care. Taking care of "you" during the holiday season helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with sadness and stress. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Eat well and make sure you get enough healthy sleep.

Don't be shy to ask for support. Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens your resilience and ability to manage the holiday season.

• Solidify bonds. Use the holidays as a time to reconnect with friends and family and strengthen your support network.

"You" with Others

Be realistic. Unrealistic expectations are the single biggest cause of holiday depression. Unrealistic hopes that everything will be perfect, and everyone will be happy leads to disappointment, frustration and can trigger a depressive relapse.

Be aware. Family conflicts can resurface during the holiday season. Try to avoid falling into old behavioral patterns with others. Be creative with seating or invite people to different occasions at different times. If necessary, avoid friction altogether by taking yourself out of the social equation with your own holiday celebration.

• Don't overschedule yourself. Most of our lives are already overscheduled, even before adding in holiday visits, religious events, and travel. Make plans carefully in advance and don't be afraid to say "no" if you feel burdened.

• Don't confuse "stuff" with "love"
. Make a budget and stick to it. Most of all, remember to give the gift of time to others. Long after the $100 video games are forgotten, kids will remember sledding down hills with you.

Plan your time well. Don't put off shopping for food and presents. Feelings of helpless, guilt and hopelessness can give way when things are left to the last minute.

Stay focused. Remember to focus on what you can control, not what's beyond your control. And don't be afraid to delegate what you might need help with.


Keltikmystique said...

Thank you for this! I struggle with the holidays every year... it's just not a happy time for me... stress, depression, money, missing loved ones that have passed, etc, etc.

These are great tips :)

Dr. Deb said...

Glad you find them helpful!

S'onnie said...

Hi Dr Deb, I haven't been around for a while so thought I would pop by to say hi. Great helpful blog as always. This is going to be a christmas of many firsts for me... first christmas in my house... first christmas with my parents in over 2 decades...First attempt to cook a christmas dinner well bbq anyway. Hope you have a fantabulous christmas. Kia Kaha (stay strong)

Anonymous said...

Excellent items of advice as always Deb. It always helps to be reminded. Too many people find the holiday to be a bad time, and I think you show the way to make it better. People should always remember that 'expectations are resentments lying in wait.'

Jen Daisybee said...

The holidays are stressful for everyone, but I think even moreso for families where there is mental illness. I appreciate your tips!

Wendy Love said...

Super ideas! I am going to put a link to this post on my blog next week! I will also list a link to your blog on my blogroll and subscribe. In the meantime, keep up this positive writing, it is so helpful. Thanks!

~Just me again~ said...

Great ideas! ...I find this time of year a spiral of emotions.

Wanda's Wings said...

I struggle with the Holidays. I am trying hard to stay a float. Thanks for the tips.

Jade said...

Just wanted to stop by and wish you a very great Holiday Season Deb. Hope life is treating you kindly.

Angeliki said...

What a great post. Thank you so much for sharing all these helpful tips. Have great holidays.