Holiday Stress

The 2019 Holiday Season is in full swing! Family gatherings began with Thanksgiving and festivities continue throughout December through the New Year. Students are getting ready for a holiday break, while the rest of us are typically running around trying to shop, bake, decorate, mail cards, and prepare for what is generally speaking a joyous time of year. There is a sort of a frenetic excitement building up to Christmas so that, once again, folks can spend time with loved ones, making special memories that will be cherished for years to come.

Yet, despite all the joys of the holidays, this season also is a source of tremendous stress to some people. What kind? There is trying to find the perfect gift, fighting the crowds at shopping malls, dealing with the hastles of travel and traffic jams, as well as managing the budget woes.

For others, the holidays are a time of loneliness. Some people may not be able to be with their loved ones or no longer have anyone to share these special days with. They may remember holidays of old and feel a sense of grief as they miss the “way things were.” Others may dislike going to holiday parties or think they “must” do something on New Year’s Eve or else they’ll be left out…and end up feeling lonely even in a room full of people. It is no surprise, then, that 50% of people polled describe experiencing loneliness over the holidays. These feelings of loneliness can often be exacerbated by seeing pictures of “perfect families and perfect gifts” in either throwback commercials or social media.

“While it may be uncomfortable to feel lonely, it’s also OK to feel this way. Talking to others who may share your feelings (either via the internet or in real life) can help you to feel less alone in your situation.” Loneliness and the Holidays. Written By Elizabeth Scott, MD (VeryWell Mind) Nov. 2019.

Another consideration is what are your expectations for the holidays? Are they reasonable or doable? If not, we need to adjust them so we aren’t disappointed. When expectations are realistic, we can meet them and feel a sense of connection with others.

If you find yourself alone for the holidays, consider reaching out to friends in your community or in your church. Invite someone to dinner or to accompany you to an event. Make phone calls to old friends or acquaintances that you haven’t talked with in a long time. Consider volunteering at your local shelter or school over the holiday.

Above all else, take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating reasonably well, and including exercise when possible. Be gentle with yourself and have a good holiday.

Kathy Miller, MA LCPC

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