By Fresh Start Empowerment Specialist, Merle Salus-Halburg
1. Allow yourself to be merely human
Be realistic. Hold onto those most important rituals and know that some are not possible. Avoid perfectionist expectations during the holidays. Some things are not feasible. If you really want to do all those holiday cookies, let go of the dusting. Or do a cookie exchange and get a variety. Try not to do it all yourself.
2. Plan ahead
Sit down with your family and friends ahead of time to discuss and decide those activities, experiences and people that make the holidays special for you. Decide to do a few special things with a few special people, not to do everything and see everybody.
3. Set Limits
Tell your family, friends and yourself that you are on a “Stress Reduction Diet” this holiday season. Remind others and yourself that you will not be over-doing, over-shopping, over-complying or over-worrying this year. Put up signs around your house as reminders.
4. Change “shoulds” to “wants”
Be aware of your own self statements. We cannot live in the subjunctive mood. “Shoulds” and “woulds” can be changed to what you really want to do. Make those your priorities.
5. Strive for a balanced lifestyle
This is a difficult time to get enough rest and exercise. It is easy to overindulge.
Set exercise as a priority – it is an antidote to depression.
Learn relaxation techniques – meditation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are all antidotes to stress. Aromatherapy is helpful. Lavender is a calming scent. Calming music is a stress reducer.
Don’t overdo the eggnog – alcohol is an antidote to nothing.
6. Tell others clearly what you want and need for the holidays
Make realistic expectations of others so you will not be disappointed.
7. Honor the old and create the new
Look back to the memorabilia of years past. The photos and songs. Some things may make sad feelings surface, so try and focus on the richness of your memories. How did you celebrate holidays with your family of origin? Take time to think of the evolution of holiday celebrations in your life.
8. Be generous to yourself
What supportive and caring things are you doing for yourself this holiday season?
9. Stick to a budget
Decide how much you can spend. Donate to charity in someone’s name. Have a gift exchange. Start a holiday name pick to limit the number of gifts you must buy. Go to thrift shops for some special items.
10. Rethink your resolutions
Set yourself up for success not failure. Make sure your resolutions are realistic. You cant make up for several weeks of indulgence. Choose resolutions that help you feel valuable and provide brief moments of happiness. Try not to be too grandiose in those resolutions. If you exceed what you planned, you will feel more successful.
11. Allow yourself to feel the entire range of emotions on the holidays
It’s not crazy, but understandable to be sad.
12. Seek professional help
If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, have trouble sleeping, are losing weight, have trouble concentrating or feel worthless, seek professional help. These may be signs of depression that may need to be addressed with professional help.
This post was inspired by Zinner and Featherstone, with adaptations and additions by Salus-Herbig.