Mental Wellness for the Holidays
Shopping, planning, decorating, more shopping, baking, festivities, shopping again. . . . No wonder we don’t always relish the holidays. It’s the season of joy, but also of overload. Is it possible to give stress a holiday this year?
Some degree of stress during the holidays is inevitable. There’s simply too much to do, and too little time and money with which to accomplish it. There are over-the-top emotional occasions, grand expectations, and the inevitable let-downs. Most of all, there are family get-togethers the foundation for our joy, but often a source of tension, especially during the holidays.
To stay open to the joys of the holiday season, it’s necessary to maintain some degree of control over the inevitable pressures your time, finances, mood, and family relations. Here are a few suggestions for mental wellness:
- Tackle a 30-minute task each day so these “extras” don’t pile up. Start ahead of time so you can actually enjoy holiday activities, such as baking.
- Get and stay organized by making a list with deadlines for when things need to be done.
- Take a brief walk every day to deep-breathe, relax, and rediscover the natural rhythms outside of the shopping mall. Occasionally, just sit still.
- Send New Year’s cards, rather than Christmas or Hanukkah greetings, after things quiet down. During the lull, you may actually enjoy corresponding.
- Before the gift-giving begins, sort through your drawers and closets and discard unwanted items to make room for the new. An overload of useless stuff is a source of stress in itself.
- When visiting in the homes of your grown children and their families, keep your expectations realistic and your attitude “current.” Treat your “children” like the adults they now are.
- Be mindful of the rituals and activities of your children’s families. Remember that the younger generation is juggling small children, jobs, shopping, and holiday entertaining all at once.
- Try to intuit where your help is most needed. Offer to bake your legendary holiday pie, for example, but don’t impose your menu.
- Take time for friendship. While holidays are certainly family times, close friends are often your best social support system.
- Stay connected to the spiritual basis of the holidays. This will renew you.
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