Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with the holidays? There's the stress of sprucing up your home for visitors, shopping for gifts and let's not forget the everyday struggles.
Holly Lanmon, Director of Outpatient Services at Aurora Behavioral Health System and a masters-leveled licensed Professional Counselor gave us the following tips on how to keep your sanity through the holidays.
Stress levels are abundant this time of year, often due to unrealistic expectations and a limited time span to get everything accomplished. How can you limit your stress?
One of the easiest solutions is to simplify, simplify, simplify. And, learn to say 'no' and/or learn to delegate. You should also set priorities around what is really important to you and what is really enjoyable for you and your family. If you're dreading going to a particular holiday party, politely decline and know that it's OK to do that.
Many people are unemployed or underemployed right now and that really adds to the burden and stress of the season. What are some tips for those who are on really tight budgets and aren't sure how to handle the situation, especially those with children?
First, you're going to have to realize and accept that the holidays will have to be celebrated differently this year. Be honest with your family and with your children about the reality. Give the gift of your time versus a monetary gift. And, don't feel guilty about asking for help from various charity organizations. You're certainly not the only person struggling financially.
Dealing With Certain Family Members
Some folks are fortunate enough to have a "Leave It To Beaver" perfect family, but that's an exception, not the rule. Many people actually dread being with certain family members during the holidays, so how do you deal with that?
One of the first things you need to remember is that you're now an adult and that means you have choices. You can perhaps limit the time you spend with your family, or choose to spend time with friends instead. Most importantly, remember that you can't control your family, or anyone else; you can only control and change how you respond.
This may be the first Christmas or Hannakuh after you've lost a loved one which can be quite emotional. How do you not let your emotions overshadow celebrations?
Keep in mind that grief isn't just about death. It could also be a divorce, the loss of a home, the loss of a job, a move, the loss of anything significant in one's life. For any of these scenarios, people are dealing with feelings of grief and they have the right to grieve the loss. It's a very normal emotion that must be felt in order to move forward. Don't let anyone tell you how to feel, either. Expect the holidays to be more emotionally difficult this year, but don't let those emotions take over and ruin the entire season.
How does someone recognize that all of these emotions may be more serious than they thought and where do they go for help?
If you're having trouble sleeping (too much or too little), if your appetite has changed (eating too much or loss of appetite), if you're experiencing energy loss, and most significantly, if you are feeling really disconnected and feel like you just don't care anymore, you could be suffering from clinical depression, or something else.
And don't forget that the anticipation of the holidays is often worse than the actual holidays themselves.