Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with reminders that this should be the hap-happiest season of all. What if that is not the case for you? What if this season brings with it stress and depression instead of good cheer and happy meetings? The Mayo Clinic has some practical tips to help us deal with the pressures and oftentimes, unrealistic expectations that accompany the season.
Acknowledge your feelings. If it has been a hard year for you or there has been great loss, know that it is normal to feel sadness and grief. Happiness cannot be manufactured. Do not put pressure on yourself to feel something that you do not.
Reach out to others. Although this is more challenging right now, many organizations have online groups and virtual events where a sense of community and support can be fostered. Many churches are still having in-person services. Pick up the phone and call a family member or good friend. A small, random act of kindness can do wonders for your spirit as well as the person receiving the gift. It does not have to be a grand gesture. A letter or card, a homemade gift, or a small bouquet of flowers can change the course of someone's day.
Be realistic. Many times, it is our expectations that cause our disappointment. Know that this year will most likely be different than years past. You can still celebrate. It may require more creativity but technology allows us to be with those that we love safely. Realize that this is temporary. It doesn't feel that way much of the time, but it is.
Set aside your differences. Most likely, everyone you meet is going through something. Try to be compassionate. We never know what someone else is carrying. Accept people as they are. Let go of the grievances. That can be your greatest gift to them and to yourself.
Stick to a budget. Before you go shopping, figure out what you have to spend and then stick to that amount. If it is a tight year, start new traditions like a white elephant exchange. Limit gift buying to the children or make homemade gifts. Some of the best gifts, require more thought than money.
Plan ahead. Make a list (or many lists) and set aside time to shop. Figure out if you can accomplish some things online. If you organize before you head out, you will save time and aggravation.
Learn to say no. It is very difficult for many to do but try not to overcommit. If you do not have the time or the desire, say no. Overcommitting can lead to resentment, bitterness, and stress.
Don't let go of healthy habits. Eat well. Try to get enough rest. Exercise. Meditate. Practice self-care.
Take a break. Walk away. Do something you love. Find a quiet space where you can refresh. It can be just a few minutes, but it is important to make the time.
Seek professional help if you need it. If you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Following these practical tips, may help to alleviate some of the stress and allow you to enjoy the most wonderful season of all.
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!” ―Hamilton Wright Mabie
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