Well, it’s time for thinking ahead to the holidays – as if it has been easy to avoid when everyplace you go has been declaring for the last month that the holidays are here. It seems like every year the pressure to prepare is increased because of these earlier reminders.
Along with the people you are planning to host or the relatives you plan to see, the unwelcome guests of stress and depression can appear. If stress and depression are severe enough they can negatively affect your health. Some of us know exactly what this is about because we have experienced firsthand these effects. No matter how we tried to create the “perfect” holiday of our dreams or make sure we followed every tradition exactly – life forced us to adjust.
I remember when we were children growing up on the farm there were definite traditions that we always tried to fulfill and for the most part as long as our families and children lived close to each other we could make that happen. However, over time, we children got married, some of us moved away, or we had our own children and had to stay close to our homes. There were holidays when one of our loved ones died and we felt like we could never celebrate again. Life happens, even as we are trying to pull off this ideal holiday. So, do we give up on experiencing some of our favorite activities and special plans or would it be better if we gave some space for unexpected things to happen, space for grieving to occur and for creating new ways to enjoy these holidays?
Let’s spend some time in these next week’s finding ways to celebrate that include the most treasured values and traditions and reduce as much of the stress as possible. A few of the primary and typical sources of this stress are the following:
- Unrealistic expectations
- Over commercialization
- Financial stress
- The inability to be with one’s family and friends
- Grieving the death of a loved one
Take some time this week and think about the impact of these stressors. Which ones impact you the most? Then, strategize some ways to honor both ourselves and our health and the holidays.
Cecelia Dachtler, MA
Life Coach, LSW