The Christmas season is full of joy, with all of its frivolities, like gift exchanges, church bells, singing choirs, family gatherings, hoof noises on the roof, rich foods, and the real reason for the season of whom many still celebrate. Depression, or anxiety, or irritability, or frustration just don’t fit with the holiday season… or do they? Actually, reality hits most of us in the face as we realize that holiday cheer isn’t exactly a given; especially with high expectations, money woes, and even with the pressure to be cheerful despite not feeling that way. So, what do we do to improve our holiday cheer with a mixed bag of emotions?
Here are some tips:
-Make plans ahead of time; figure out what needs to get done and make it a priority. Stay on track until it’s completed before you start the next “to-do” task on your list.
-Try to get along with everyone; avoid conflicts during this time of year and instead make a time later on to disagree and work through stuff when the house isn’t full of company and stress is at its foremost.
-Focus on the good; enjoy your blessings. Find gratitude in what you do, what you experience, the interactions you have…
-Try to relax and let the “need to be perfect” size way down to “enjoying the moment”. No one really cares if your house is perfect or if you have one more item made for Christmas.
-Take care of your own health; don’t cut back on sleep, eat nutritiously, don’t forget exercising, and get outside a bit to get refreshed. Your body drags along with you during this holiday season; why not take care of it.
-Focus on what matters; we all have our own significances.
-Smile anyways; it makes others feel good and it also can have a positive effect on you as well – “Fake it ‘til you make it”.
-Allow others to give to you; let someone in, especially if you are sad or grieving, or if you are stressed or frustrated, or if you feel alone and vulnerable. We all need each other, especially during a holiday season. Allowing someone in helps the giver and the receiver. It is important to feel connected. We need each other. It is part of the human condition.
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW
St. Williams Mental Health