The holidays are a time to enjoy family and friends, honor and reflect on what has unfolded this past year and consider what could be for the New Year. It’s a time to relax, recharge, connect and have fun with family and friends. It can be fun, fulfilling and rewarding time of year.
For some with all the running around last minute shopping, decking the hall, baking of holiday goodies, cooking feasts for family and friends and visiting family near and far. The holidays can be challenging, stressful and exhausting.
This can bring on added stress and depression. It is a time of year that is lonely for those in the community who don’t have family or money for gifts to go to family parties. Remember that the holidays are about making memories not acquiring things.
When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.
Caring for our Mind – Body – Spirit
Here are a few tips to be mindful of and that can help with holiday stressors.
Taking care of our body - Making sure we have enough rest, eating well (not over doing it with all the yummy treats) and drinking more water than sweet drinks and getting daily exercise.
Peace of Mind – Avoid last minute anything and pre-plan-set things up in advance, sticking to the budget and let go of over extending ourselves, honoring loved ones that may no longer be with us and cherish and celebrate the loved ones we have today.
Feeding our Spirit – Nurturing our spirit with what brings us joy. Celebrating and Honoring the Spirit of Christmas, The Joy of Giving, Connecting with Family, Cultural gatherings….Seeing the joy and delight of the holiday magic in our children and grandchildren’s eyes. What brings you Joy? What helps us to be grounded and present? Stay connected – If the holidays are challenging for you, setting up time with family and friends in advance, this can help pull us through.
By practicing self-care we able to be more present to ourselves and to those around us.
What can you do?
1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
3. Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
Try these alternatives:
o Donate to a charity in someone's name.
o Give homemade gifts.
o Start a family gift exchange.
6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
7. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
8. Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try these suggestions:
o Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
o Get plenty of sleep.
o Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
Some options may include:
o Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
o Listening to soothing music.
o Getting a massage.
o Reading a book.
10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Take care and have a Happy Holiday!
If you need immediate help contact:
Vancouver Island Crisis Line: 1-888-494-3888 FREE
Crisis Text Services: 250-800-3806 from your mobile.
Available from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm Pacific Time, seven days a week.