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Reduce holiday jitters and blues…

The holiday season is filled with expectations of joy and celebration. Indeed, it can be a wonderful time to spend time with those we care about and to practice cultural traditions. These expectations can also bring on added stress with the all of the extra demands and expenses.They can also bring on feelings of grief when we are reminded of loved ones who are no longer with us, and sadness when we cannot be with family and friends who live far away or are having health issues.If you are feeling stressed or depressed, you are not alone! It is a difficult time of year for many of us and here are a few ways to navigate the holidays and to make them more enjoyable…Take control of your holidays..

Take care of yourself and your family. Getting enough sleep, exercise, and eating a healthy diet during times of elevated stress is extremely important.  If you are invited to parties or social gatherings consider not staying the whole time and eat something healthy before you go so you don’t over-indulge on all those treats. Stick to a family schedule as much as possible and don’t over-book. Find simple ways to relax. Remember, you will set the emotional tone during the holidays for your children.

Simplify and Consolidate. Plan your shopping carefully (make lists and plan a route that makes the most sense if you have multiple stops). Reduce stress by leaving the kids at home when possible, and combine trips to avoid unneeded driving. Buy fewer gifts or gift cards in stores, instead, buy online. Use fewer decorations, consider entertaining fewer guests, or have potlucks. Go out to eat instead of preparing a meal. Find more tips on simplifying HERE.

Keep to a budget. Plan to spend what you can afford to spend on gifts, food, travel, decorations, etc. and stick to it. That may mean helping your children moderate their expectations and putting emphasis on the fact that holidays aren’t all about gifts. Perhaps you can have a long-term plan with them to earn a desired gift by saving their allowance, and purchasing something at a later date, or buy a less expensive alternative; look for bargains; make gifts or decorations. Also look for activities such as caroling, driving around to look at Christmas lights with homemade hot cocoa in the car, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, or adopting a family to give to during this time of year.

Use your support system. Communicate by phone, email, Skype, or FaceTime with family and friends.  Ask others for help with cooking, decorating, wrapping, and just listening. Spend time with positive people! If you must spend time with a relative or co-worker who “gets you down”, limit the visit as much as possible. Plan an outing with a friend or friends. If you are truly feeling depressed seek professional help.

Find positive ways to remember and honor those who are no longer with us. Create a family tradition around their memory. Make their favorite dish. Sing their favorite song. Share fond memories or stories about them at family gatherings. They might not be with you in the flesh, but you can always hold a piece of them in your heart. Find some great ideas HERE. Even though their title uses Christmas, you can incorporate these into other holidays.

Create new family traditions. There is no need to continue past traditions that have lost their enjoyment. Use your creativity and make new ones that provide meaning for you and your family. Find a way to help others less fortunate. For a few fresh ideas click HERE.

Holidays make memories!  Enjoy!

Barbara Lavine, LPC                                                                                                                                                                     Wellness Connection LLC                                                                                                                                                        Stone Ridge, VA