Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday Survival Guide!

So, the holidays are here again! And you know what that means for some people....totally stressed! Research has shown that many people become stressed and depressed during the holidays.  However it really doesn't have to be that way.  Part of spending time during the holidays with your friends and family is to actually enjoy the time you spent with them.  However that can't happen if you don't have a proper grasp on your own mental situation and stress levels.  As a therapist, I saw many patients struggle throughout the season with these issues only to dread showing up to Auntie Dearest house for the holidays.  So here are a few tips you can try in order to help you avoid having an unhappy holiday!  Part of surviving the holidays is being straight forward about the issues we all deal with.  So below is some simple straight forward advise that is very practical to follow in order to survive the holiday season!!

1. Money!

Stop!  Totally just stop in this area!  Many individuals go broke to the point of not being able to pay their bills during the holidays and the next month after.  The holidays is NOT about gift giving regardless of what mainstream media might want to make you believe.   Remember the old saying "a fool and their money is easily parted."  Don't be foolish.  Buy the gift you CAN for the ones you love according to your budget and current situation.  However keep in mind, a price tag doesn't define the love you have for someone. That should not be a precedent set throughout the year.  Christmas is a ONCE a year thing.  Don't blow all the money you need to get through the other 364 days on Christmas.  Moreover, try buying people functional gifts that they actually need versus what they want.  The "need" items at times are much much cheaper then the "want" items.  Keep in mind, gift giving isn't the only form of gift offerings you can give to someone.  You can also donate to someones child who you care about to their RESP or help offer assistance in someones life with your expertise.  For example, help them build a website they might need for their business.  Offer to help them declutter their home.  Or spending time with them or something simple as cooking them dinner.  Remember gift giving is so much more then physical gifts. 

2. Family!

Lets be honest, family can be very stressful regardless if you get alone or not.  And during the holidays we get to see a lot of our family a lot of the time which may also include people you don't like.  So here are a few tips.  1. Don't pull a real housewives move.  Keep your problems with that family member out of the party, dinner, outing...whatever you going to for the day.  It is not the time to open up old wounds or try to close new ones UNLESS both people are willing to do so.  Nonetheless, it can wait. It can wait the party is over so you both can have your private time to sort it Moreover, don't go out of your way to make that person feel uncomfortable either.  Keep your distance and your peace.  However if you feel you can't control yourself and/or emotions, then stay home.  Its better you hang by yourself or with another group of friends or family members before you mess up everyone's day including yours.  This is where self control and being courteous needs to come into play.  Remember the holidays isn't just about you.  Its about everyone including you and your problems with X person shouldn't be everyone else's problems. 

3. Realistic Expectations

 During the holidays many people expect magical things to happen.  I call it "magical realism".  Where you expect magic to become real.  People expect fabulous gifts, engagement rings, expensive presents, million dollar work bonuses, happily ever after family gatherings where they are most picturesque as to what you see in a Style and Home magazine.  Winter Wonderland getaway vacation where our other half planned it secretly (to surprise us) and of course Santa coming down the chimney with awesome presents for you as he flies away on his magical sled with Rudolph and the eight tiny reindeer's!  Let's get real, if you actual get socks for Christmas at grand mama's house; at least you got an invitation that year.  When you lower your unrealistic expectations, is only when the holidays start being stress free.  Yes the food might be burnt, you might show up late to that family dinner, no, your fiance might not ask you to marry him with a sled ride around town nor will the dog magically just let himself out without you opening the door for them.  Point is, the holidays is just like any other day.  Stuff happens, good or bad.  So be realistic on the gifts you expect, the time you plan to share with the others and the actual moments and memories you will remember versus living in a Michael Buble winter wonderland fantasy in your mind.  The sooner you accept the real reality you live in, the better your holidays will be with little disappointment.   

4. Holiday Blues!  

Holiday blues are a real thing so take them serious.  It is well known that many people become sad, depressed and even anxious around the holidays.  If that is you, there are a few things you can do to help combat or deal with these feelings. 1. Speak to someone.  There are many free hot lines where you can call into to help you manage during the holiday season.  If you have private insurance, setting up an appointment with a therapist who can give you practical advise in order to help you deal with your emotional state.  Moreover, in Canada OHIP covers for you to see your GP so you can speak to a medical professional about what is going on with you emotionally.  2. Speak to a friend or family member you trust.  Nothing feels worst then dealing with the holiday blues on you own.  Many times all it takes is a different perspective in order to help you see through your issues.  3. Get out of the house and do something fun even if its by yourself.  Locking yourself up will only feed the blue feelings you feel. 4. Exercise, eat right and minimize your alcohol consumption.  A poor diet will not only kill your waistline, but it will also affect your mood and stability during the holiday season.   Its sucks feeling blue during the holidays, but nothing sucks more then when you feel alone and like no one cares.  Trust me, someone always cares about someone out there.  You don't have to deal with these feelings alone and there are plenty of places you can go to and things you can do to help you.  

6. Rest!

Finally, rest!  Take cat naps, long naps, whatever naps.  But rest.  The holidays shouldn't be about feeling pressured to perform, to buy gifts, to spend money, to go broke.  Remember its all about family!  And real family shouldn't care about what you buy them, but more about that you spent the holidays with them building lasting memories!

Keep Smiling!


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