Magazine articles, television programs and music playlists tell us that this is
“the most wonderful time of the year.”
That is until the extra work of shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, planning and entertaining makes it the least wonderful time.
While most of us welcome the chance to celebrate with family and friends, sometimes those encounters create emotional tension and strain. When we feel sad that loved ones can’t be with us, either through distance or death, the season can become the worst of the year.
By anticipating these events and feelings, we can prepare ourselves for the physical and emotional stress of the holiday season, and find a way to enjoy the festivities with “hearts glowing.”
Here are links to and brief quotes from some resources with sound advice for confronting and conquering holiday challenges.
Over-the-top holiday excursions can be stressful, which is not how you should be spending this joyful season. Focus on your holiday traditions — don’t worry about the rest. Make time for friends, family and good cheer, and embrace relaxation when you can. Don’t neglect the value of sleep, either. Do all that you can to stick to a normal sleep schedule even around all the celebrations and traveling. Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, daytime napping and large meals before bed. These factors can interfere with a good night’s rest.
Set boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. If you’re a “Yes Man/Woman” (someone who always says “yes” and has a hard time saying “no”), then you not only have to deal with the stress of planning for the holiday, but also the overwhelming pressure to please everyone since you’re the reliable person whom everyone depends on (or the schmuck whom everyone takes advantage of), which leads to internal feelings of guilt, exhaustion, anger, and resentment if you can’t carry out all the duties expected of you, but then blame everyone else for not helping you (you probably also don’t feel comfortable asking for or accepting help, right?)
Don’t shop ’til you drop
Sticking to your shopping list can help you avoid going off on a spree. It’s also smart to take a break between buys. Yale University researchers have found that making a purchase can trigger what they call the “shopping momentum effect”—a psychological impulse to buy subsequent items. To counteract the effect, just walk away from the store or computer screen for a few minutes. And no window-shopping on your way out.
Accept your feelings — whatever they might be. Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be bathed in tears. Some feel bad that they aren’t up for enjoying a holiday; others feel guilt because they are feeling joy. However you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs: You may feel peaceful one moment and gut-wrenchingly sad the next. Try to stay in tune with your own highest truth and you will know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.
Enjoy “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Eddie Pola and George Wyle. Arranged by Hawley Ades Cantare Children’s Choir: Catherine Glaser-Climie Ron Bennie, Accompanist