Handling Holiday Stress

By Teresa Cox Reading, RN –

So often our patients and even friends ask, “How do I handle the holidays?” Specifically, how do I handle the holidays if I am stressed, alone, lonely, fearful, overwhelmed, have high expectations with low performance, am dealing with family problems and conflict, etc.?

Many times, the holidays and depression, or just feeling down, go hand in hand. The constant excitement that many share can, in others, signal a panic of feeling impending doom. The holidays are supposed to be a time of cheer, celebration and family, right? Well, yes, but it all has to start with you. Yes, you.

First of all, be prepared, and be mindful. Know your internal conversation, and be mindful of your feelings and emotions. It helps to know what feelings are, what emotions are and the differences.

Feelings are the products of one’s emotions. Feelings, these ebb and flow products, are stable, low-key and sustained over a time period. Feelings include: happiness, worry, contentment, bitterness, love and depression. Emotions are intense and temporary. They tell us what we like and don’t like. They include: joy, fear, anger, lust, enthusiasm and sadness.

Your sustained feeling of worry about the holidays might generate a temporary emotion of fear. But, if you are not mindful, it is hard to pinpoint what it is we are saying to ourselves.

Understanding all of this can lead to positive changes, especially around this time of year. Individuals can start to take control, and if they need assistance, there are professionals who can help to get you on the right track.

Some helpful hints for the holidays are:

Take care of yourself. You have to take care of yourself first.

Ask for help. This is a “biggie” as it is hard for most people to ask for help.

Get plenty of sleep. Sleepless nights can cause so many other problems and make dealing with situations so difficult. Without proper rest, we can get grumpy, short-tempered and be more susceptible to illness.

Lower expectations. Yes, this is hard to do but sometimes is just necessary. It will all still be okay if you go out to eat versus having 20 family members over. Have a treat one year to enjoy your company, and relax a bit.

Don’t over schedule yourself. Yes, those lists will still be there. Pace yourself, especially if you tend to be an overachiever.  You know who you are.

Don’t over-buy. January is right a-round the corner and so are your routine costs. Money and gifts do not equal love. Maybe set aside a time to give of yourself with a shared project, reading a book to your child, some mom and me time, etc.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the holiday blues, contact William H. Reading, MD at 281-494-4471 or visit www.DrReading.com.