Is your holiday season filled with joy or sorrow? Are you so stressed right now that you can’t even enjoy the beauty of Christmas? Do you secretly dread this time of year because of the sadness it brings you? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, you could be suffering from a depression that affects thousands of Americans during this festive period.
Feeling sad during the time period encompassing Thanksgiving to Christmas is common for many people. Why? It can mark a period of heightened stress due to money issues, lost love ones and unrealistic expectations. For this reason, it’s important to have a game plan prior to October 31st to determine how you will process the next couple of months.
Below are five ways to manage your emotions during the holiday season. If you follow them, you can enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas more. And, you may even be able to do it with a smile.
1) Decide who you’ll see during the holidays. If you come from a troubled family (like many), decide in advance how you’ll deal with relatives. Maybe an all day visit should be cut down to two hours. Or, you may need to pass on seeing some relatives all together. If the person you usually visit is abusive and you feel terrible after seeing them, you may just want to send them a Christmas card and spend your holidays with someone else. If this person is a parent, you can use this as a time to explain how some of their behaviors make you feel or, if that is not an option, just explain to them that you just can’t make it to their home.
2) Set financial goals. Your holidays should be marked with how much love you give to others instead of how much you spend on presents. If you cannot spend a lot on gifts due to a strained budget, you may want to consider just sending a card with a nice note. Be sure to set a realistic budget and stick to it. For large families, you can pick names, so each person only has to buy one gift. You can also do a white elephant gift exchange. Your real goal in setting a financial one is to avoid the stress that comes with over-extending one’s self during this time of year.
3)Take time out for yourself. Probably more than any time of the year, during the months of November and December, you’ll be huddled with others. At times, you may be involved in activities that you really don’t enjoy in an effort to please others. As a result, it’s important to take some time out for yourself. This time could include one hour a day (or every three days) just to sit alone and meditate, read or listen to music. This time will help you deal with all of the remaining hours you spend with others.
4) Set a schedule. Most people don’t have enough time in the day to do everything prior to the holidays. As a result, this feeling is amplified during the month of November and December due to family obligations and extended shopping periods. Therefore, setting specific times for shopping and visiting others is essential. Block out a period of time to shop and also visit friends and family. You don’t want to get caught shopping at the last minute either because it’ll increase your stress levels. Similarly, you may want to limit the amount of parties and family events you do, so they won’t be overwhelming. Focus on attending the most important festivities that will help you see most of your loved ones at one time. Let go of those peripheral events that have more to do with strangers.
5) Set realistic expectations. This last piece of advice encompasses all of the rest. You’re an adult, so it’s time to embrace a realistic vision of the holidays. What you see on TV is largely fictional and based on another person’s family and friends. Your vision for the holiday season must be based on your own life. So decide what is most important to you and focus on it. Remember, it’s your life and you must decide what is acceptable for you.