While the holidays are expected to be joyous occasions for everyone, surviving the fantastical holiday expectations is no easy feat. Obligations, seemingly endless tasks, lack of time or budget constraints can all contribute to anxiety or depression. Throw in family conflicts, loneliness and meaningless gifting and you have a recipe for a pressure driven season. Along with the added stressors comes overindulgence, which may contribute to feeling bad about excessive eating, drinking or spending. Perhaps it’s time to give yourself a present. Give yourself a gift of sanity by getting back to the basics to simplify the very overblown holiday expectations.
Unattainable expectations can lead to stress, disappointment or even depression. Many of us spend hours at the mall or online looking for the perfect gift for everyone on our sometimes overwhelming list. Extravagant gifts that put you in debt come the new year are often appreciated more by the giver than the receiver. Often times a simple gift of time or attention will suffice. Show someone how much you love them by spending time together doing something special, a gift of homemade presents or treats, or perhaps provide a simple meal for someone who may be confined to their home. Focusing on someone else’s real needs can help you feel grateful for the blessings you have. When you stop to think about it, you likely have a lot to be thankful about.
One simple and free holiday gift is starting a family tradition to help others less fortunate. Perhaps each family member would agree to a few less presents for themselves in order to help a needy family put food on the table or buy small presents for their children. If a friend or neighbor is alone during the holidays, invite them to share in your celebrations. Social support not only helps to ward off holiday blues, it can help to lift everyone’s spirits. Giving love and showing kindness to others are powerful tools for changing the game plan and getting back to the spirit of the season.
If you know there will be conflicts at a family gathering, be prepared to neutralize the situation by simply finding a reason to walk away, such as a need to check on the children or help out in the kitchen. Or take the advice of Don Draper, star of Mad Man, “If you don’t like what someone is saying, change the conversation.” Set aside grievances for discussion at a more appropriate or private time when life is less stressful. And, if you really can’t deal with the obligatory family visit, skip the trip entirely and leave your guilt on the doorstep. It really is okay and no justification is required if you simply want to enjoy a pleasant time at home.
One way to ward off holiday depression is to make a plan that includes not only shopping and decorating but restorative routines as well. Don’t abandon all your healthy habits or let the holidays become a free-for-all. Failure to get some exercise or skimping on sleep can make you feel guilty and stressed. To restore your inner calm, take a breather when you need it. Stress takes its toll on your mental and physical health, so be mindful and listen to your body. If you are feeling persistently tired, anxious or irritable, it’s time to take a time out and clear your mind. Sometimes all it takes is 15 minutes of alone time, a short walk or a restful break to restore your energy and enable you to cope with all that’s going on around you. Set priorities, let the rest go and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season with your family and friends.
Supplements to aid in stress or anxiety relief include:Daily Stress Formula by Pure Encapsulations – This blend of herbs and nutrients is designed to provide powerful defense from the mental and physical factors associated with occasional stress. GABA 750 mg by Physiologics – This amino acid, produced naturally in the central nervous system, has an inhibitory effect that calms overexcited nerve impulses, aids in relaxation and promotes restful sleep. Stress B-Complex (B107) by Thorne Research – This supplement contains active forms of 8 water soluble B vitamins that are essential for cellular energy production and healthy adrenal, neurological immune function. References: Making Happy Changes in Your Holidays. http://psychcentral.com/lib/making-happy-changes-in-your-holidays/00018449 Not So Merry? http://www.mhawisconsin.org/holidaystress.aspx Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544 Holiday Stress: A Resourceful Survivor’s Guide. Online. http://psychcentral.com/lib/holiday-stress-a-resourceful-survivors-guide/00039?all=1