The holidays can, indeed, be the “most wonderful time of the year” but we have our own families to remind us that the season doesn’t always reflect that sentiment.
The pressures of family gatherings, being able to afford an array of presents, religious traditions and social commitments can be extremely overwhelming. And so for many of us, the holidays are often filled with dread, deep sadness, and even grief.
There are ways, however, to get through the season feeling less battered, according to mental health counselors and family therapists with the American Counseling Association.
Keep reading for some of their best tips. They’re listed below:
- Plan ahead (create a “road map”) and talk about the pressures of the season before they climax. Work through anticipated stressors ahead of time, like a rehearsal.
- Understand that you can’t please everyone and attend every function.
- Incorporate a tradition that you want to do or makes you happy, such as a childhood holiday tradition or a favorite side dish at the holiday meal.
- Be realistic in making plans and allow time for rest and relaxation.
- When trying to work through grief and loss, be prepared for triggers. Involve a deceased loved one’s memory in holiday celebrations, such as making and displaying an ornament that reminds you of the loved one and brings back a happy memory.
- Start a journal before the holidays and note a positive item that occurs each day that you can flip back to and remind yourself of a less stressful time.
- Focus on the thoughtfulness of gift giving rather than spending beyond your means.
- Consider seeking help from a counselor if the holiday blues continue to interfere with daily life;
- Be as clear as possible ahead of time to your families about what you will and won’t be able to do;
- For people feeling lonely, consider volunteering and participating in community events, which can be a powerful and rewarding.
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