Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Surviving the Holiday Season...Mentally!

Let's face it, when the holidays come around the first thing that comes to mind is money and family.  Whether that is a good or bad think for you is a whole other story.  Nonetheless, getting through the holidays mentally fit is important in order to not ruin your spirits and time off.  

I am going to talk about a few things that seem to effect people during the holiday and how to work around that. 

1. Gift Giving! 

Let's be honest, it can get expensive during Christmas when we have to buy everyone on our list a gift.  This alone in itself is a stressor.  One of the main things you want to do, is narrow down your list to people that really matter in your life and who would appreciate your kind gesture. Remember gifts are not mandatory, they are a luxury....point blank.  If you can't really afford to give them, then don't.  Its that simple.  It better you pay your bills and have food on your table for your family then going broke simply because you feel you have to give.  After being in grad school for so many years (hence broke) I decided to give gifts to the people that really mattered in my life if/when I could afford it during the Christmas season.  If I could not that year, I politely let them know I was in grad school and paying for that came first.  If they gave me a gift I kindly thanked them despite my inability to  give back.  After awhile nobody expected me to have money anyway during Christmas so it really didn't matter anymore.

2. Control Your Spending!

Besides gift giving being expensive, we all tend to get caught up on the holiday sales. And yes while they are tempting, they can also add up and get expensive.  Decide ahead of time what you really need for yourself (and others) before going shopping.  Nothing says broke like actually being broke for the holidays due to overspending. Another idea is stocking stuffers.  People LOVE stocking stuffers because they are small, cheap and you can really get a good bang for your buck on these.  Try investing in those if you really need to buy a lot of gifts for many people on your list.  Again, Christmas comes and goes, but falling behind on bills always stays when it catches up to you month after month.

3. Family Time!

The hardest part about the holidays is dealing with the family.  For many, we don't see each other expect maybe Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And if bad blood exist, then the tension is high during that time.  Part of getting together is actually enjoying that time together.  If you know someone from your family will be at that event that you simply can't stand or can't forgive, then you need to question if its worth ruining yours and their holiday altogether.  If you can't mend your issues, and seeing each other might end up in fireworks, then its best you stay home.  If you decide to go, then be on your best behavior and for God sakes don't pull a housewife stunt and pretend to hash it out during Christmas dinner.  Nobody else need to be privy to your issues even if they do know about them.  Ruining other peoples Christmas simply because the person who you have an issue with can't be dealt with all year around, doesn't give either party the right to fix it on that day if you can't predict the outcome.  So either stay home or if you decide to go, keep it amicable for everyone's sake and eventually deal with it on another day.  Life is to short to be angry at someone else regardless of what the issue is.  Either learn to let it go, forgive or it will eat it you up inside. Remember hatred is like drinking poison expecting the other person to die. 

4. Reflecting!

Many people take Christmas as time to reflect on their life in the same way New Years has that affect. As each year passes its important you look back on your life and contemplate how you lived it for that year. While yes, every year is just another year, but it still is another year that passes and for many with no change.  While I don't believe to much in New York Resolutions, but I do believe in goal setting.  Regardless of what day of the year it is, it is important you look back and see where changes need to be made so that come next year you are a better reflection of yourself.  Nothing says stagnant then living the same life year after year with no changes.  If anything, things just get worse and for many depression sinks in.  Try to set goals every year of what you want to achieve and work towards that.  Write them down and tick them off every time you accomplish one. By the end of the year when you look at your list, you will be proud to see how much you have accomplished in that one year.

5. Holiday Depression!  

Many tend to get depressed around this time of the year due to life struggles, loses, deaths and so on.  While its hard to say "hey buck up its Christmas" it is important that you seek help if your depression becomes to much.  While it is false that suicide rates go up during the holiday (is it actually after the holiday that it raises by 40%) nonetheless depression does become a big issue for many.  It is important during this time that you surround yourself with friends and family to help lift your spirits.  See a therapist if needed, get exercise and do something like volunteering to help you out of your slump.  Helping others for many is what they need to raise their emotional state.  Don't deal with it alone as there is much help out there.  Don't let the season get to you simply because of disappointments that have happen in your life.  While somethings in life we will never get over, but we will get through it.  Remember that and hold on to that. 

6. Rest! 

For God sakes its the holidays and time off! Get some rest!! If the holidays cause you to become to stress then you really need to take a step back and decide what are you doing that this is becoming more of a burden then an enjoyment.  Take some time to sleep in, spend it with the family, play with your children, pet your dog, talk to your partner...anything.  Just don't spend it stressed because then its a waste of a holiday and back to work you go with no real rest.  Take time to reflect on what matters and stay with that.  If you forget to trim the tree, make your famous pumpkin pie, buy Aunt May that awesome gift she wanted all year worries.  Tomorrow is another day.  Remember that! Christmas comes but once a year...but everyday comes everyday.  Whatever you don't do today can hold off till tomorrow if you need to rest.
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