A Skillful Holiday Season

A Skillful Holiday Season
For many, the holiday season is a joyous and festive time.  For others, the season brings feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression.  When you are already suffering from every day stresses, the season’s activities – gift shopping, upcoming dinner parties, decorating and family get-togethers can leave you feeling overwhelmed.  If you are feeling alone, or are going through some of life’s difficult events such as an illness (yourself or a loved one), the loss of a loved one, divorce or financial issues, the holiday season can become extremely challenging.  Here are some tips:
#1  Keep up your normal routines. Make a “to do” list of additional things to be done in order of priority.
#2  Be realistic, manage your expectations.  If we have an unrealistic version of what the holiday looks like, we may be very disappointed or let down if it doesn’t live up to those expectations.
#3  Make healthy decisions.   Get plenty of rest and drink lots of water.  You will be better equipped to deal with additional stress if you keep yourself healthy and fatigue free.  Think moderation, it’s very easy to overindulge in food and alcohol with parties and get-togethers.  The results can lead to guilt when the festivities are over.
#4  Say no when you need to.  Remember this is your holiday too and it’s okay to decline invitations or say no when you are asked to do more than you can.
#5  Be mindful.  Be aware of extra tasks you’re asked to take on so you don’t become overloaded.  Don’t make quick or rash decisions and be aware of purchases you are making. Being mindful will help keep you on track with your time and money.
#6  Ask for help.  If you’ve taken on too much or more than you can do, ask friends and family members to help out whether it be cooking, decorating or shopping.  It’s okay to ask for help.
#7  Try volunteering. If you are spending the holidays alone and are feeling lonely, volunteer with an organization, children in group homes, a soup kitchen or nursing home.  Bringing happiness to others and being of service to those less fortunate may make you feel better about yourself and help you maintain a positive perspective.
#8  Be empathetic.  Remember, you are not the only one that is susceptible to stress during this busy time.  If someone has been a bit nasty towards you, it could just be that they are not handling their “holiday stress” very well.  Kindness, forgiveness and self- control can be infectious.
#9  Be kind to yourself.  If you do find you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or just blue, do something nice for yourself.  Get a massage, take a walk, a long bath, or maybe just create some alone time.  Whatever makes you feel good, do it for yourself.  You have to take care of yourself to have the energy to take care of everything else.
Finally, think about COPING AHEAD by making a plan with your therapist, joining a support group, and writing down available resources like the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and your local hospitals before the season begins. 

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