Hints for Handling the Holidays

 In Social Support, Stress, Travel

Holidays can be a stressful time for any number of reasons. We may have (unrealistically) high expectations for a “perfect” celebration. The loss of a loved one, a job, or a significant relationship may leave us feeling down, not really wanting to celebrate at all. Lack of resources, loneliness, or clinical depression may also interfere with our enjoyment of the season, along with many other difficulties.

Here are some suggestions and resources for surviving and finding joy in the holiday season.

Managing Holiday Stress

Be realistic about your time, resources, and expectations. If you have children, help them learn to be realistic, too. Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks — and have fun working together.

Plan ahead and prioritize your time. Know your spending limit and honor it. Remember, as someone has said, the holiday is about presence, not presents.

Enjoy the present moment and seek out holiday activities that are free, like seeing the lights, making cards, watching holiday movies or specials, etc. Try something new!

Spend time with supportive and caring people. Schedule some “down time” for rest and reflection.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which is a depressant. Eat healthy and get plenty of sleep and exercise.

A sense of humor helps. Seek professional help if you need it.

Feeling Lonely This Year?

If you are in a new situation without many personal connections, it’s important to plan your approach to the holidays, whether you want to spend it with people or doing something alone that you enjoy. Below are some ways to bring people into your life ahead of and during the holidays.

  • Reach out and connect or reconnect with someone special to you.
  • Try volunteering to help others. The following websites can help: www.nashvillerescuemission.org,www.chd-nashville.org, www.secondharvestnashville.org, www.uso.org
  • Seek out someone to share your thoughts and feelings with.
  • Create community. (Throw a party! Plan a dinner. Meet friends at a restaurant.)
  • Get a pet or offer to pet sit for someone.
  • Telephone supportive people – family or friends. Send some cards with personal notes.
  • Spend time with nature and in the sunshine when there is some!

Grief and the Holidays

Talk about your grief with those you trust. Take good care of yourself. Recognize that the holidays won’t be the same. Be careful not to isolate yourself completely from friends and family.

“Cancel” the holidays and do something different for yourself if you need to, like taking a family trip or going to a friend’s home, away from painful associations in your own house. Create new traditions. Get involved in service to others. Give yourself permission to avoid festivities if you need to or to leave events early.

Allow yourself to feel what you feel and to grieve as you need to. Avoid additional stress. Know that, with time, you will heal, and it will get easier. For resources, visit www.connect.legacy.com, www.beliefnet.com, www.centerforloss.com, and www.griefnet.org.

10 Tips for Dealing with Holiday Blues for the Divorced

(from www.divorcenet.com)

  1. Start planning your holiday now.
  2. Don’t withdraw from key relationships.
  3. Connect to the spirit of the holiday.
  4. Spoil yourself.
  5. Don’t call your ex.
  6. Serve and help others.
  7. Don’t overeat. Savor instead.
  8. Experience nature.
  9. Don’t allow yourself one-night stands.
  10. Call an old friend as a surprise.

Things to Do When You’re Feeling Blue This Holiday

If certain feelings start to bring you down, here are some ideas to get you started on the path to feeling better:

Hug your cat or dog. Read. Take a walk. Light some candles. Visit some indoor gardens to see beauty in the winter. Make something. Watch a holiday favorite. Take a hot bath. Make a cup of cider or spiced tea. Take a book to the local coffee shop and sit and relax. Send cards to friends. Listen to music. Take a few minutes to sit still and listen. Make a lunch date with someone you enjoy. Get a massage. Buy yourself some flowers or a houseplant. Go to a museum. Watch the sun rise. Sing or dance in the privacy of your own home. Do something nice and unexpected for someone else. Watch the sun set. Give thanks.

By creating a solid plan for how you will approach the holidays in the spirit of enjoyment, and following through, you can ensure a season that enriches your life and possibly the lives of others. Wishing you a wonderful rest of 2019!

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