This post was written by my mother, Dr. Linda Edelstein, who has been a Psychologist for over 30 years! She’s got some great suggestions.
Yes, let’s be thankful today and jolly next month, but the reality is that holidays are difficult for many people for different reasons. We know that SAD (seasonal affective disorder occurring because of short days and little light) affects some individuals, but there are other reasons why people get the Holiday Blues.
*Jenny and I filmed this video on Thanksgiving day, I went over common holiday stresses and ways to overcome them. This was my first periscope broadcast and we had fun doing it, I hope you enjoy it.
Here are very common reasons why holidays are stressful:
- Expectations are high – even reasonable people who know better get caught up in high expectations for holidays.
- Conflicting obligations – many people are running from mom’s house to the in-laws, never feeling settled and relaxed anywhere, always checking the time, fearing of insulting someone.
- Prior losses – if the past year has been marked by a death or serious loss, it can be rough going into a holiday without that special person.
- Loneliness – anyone who is already feeling lonely will feel worse when grandma asks the perpetually irrelevant question, “are you still single?”
- Drinking or eating problems – if you are struggling with an alcohol problem or an eating disorder, the holidays are almost guaranteed to send you into a tizzy. Comments like, “Here, have a drink!” “What? No dessert?” trigger lousy feelings and it becomes easy to lose control.
Well, you are not alone.
Based on the above causes, here are some tips to improve your holiday:
For your general physical well-being, get exercise, enough sleep, try yoga, and call Jenny for an acupuncture tune-up. Physical isn’t the entire game – here are some psychological tips to ease the stress of the holidays:
- Lower your expectations. Life doesn’t radically change just because a turkey is on the table. People don’t generally behave any better (often worse), so enjoy the holiday for whatever it is.
- Limit your obligations. Don’t add stress by racing around; don’t get overtired; and don’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to everyone. Be strategic in where you go and when you go.
- If you have suffered a loss, consider doing something different for the holidays. Go out of town; order in; skip the day and go to the movies. If the old traditions will increase your sadness and deluge you with memories, try something different – at least for this year.
- Protect yourself from the dumb questions; avoid the people who set you off; and perhaps prepare yourself with stock, joking answers that end the conversation.
- Eating and drinking problems require you to make decisions ahead of time. Never go into a party thinking, “I’ll decide whether to have dessert or alcohol once I get there.” NO, it doesn’t work. Decide what is best for you and close the door to that decision. Let your brain rest.
- Remember all the things about which you are thankful.