In the last article we went over some of the different personality types that you could meet as you have family get-together over the holidays. I didn’t include every possibility, just some of the more common ones that are not so cliché. There are many other factors that play into holiday stress.
Worry about finances and gifts are a large contributor to anxiety and stress. It’s not uncommon to feel so overwhelmed by the need to accommodate other’s desire to receive gifts. Children have an expectation ingrained in their minds that material possessions equal the love their family has for them. The way the last two generations have been brought up is a whole different topic that I will not get into. But keeping their raising in mind, the current generation of children has been taught that material possessions and brands that they wear or own equal their self-worth. It would be wonderful if the generation that follows is able to break this terrible thought process. But how do we deal with it right now?
I think it is far more reasonable to discuss with children the realities of life about finances. Instead of building this expectation in their mind that all their wants will be provided for them, and that they deserve everything – setting a more realistic view of life is much less stressful for both of you and the child.
Instead of taking out a loan to buy over priced electronics this year, teaching children about financial responsibility can be rewarding. If your children are adults, I truly hope they already have a grasp of this notion. Providing your child with an object lesson may be more reasonable.
It is natural to want to buy gifts for everyone, but it’s not always feasible. Don’t allow yourself to become defeated and depressed if you can’t make everyone happy with materials possessions. Remind yourself that the true gift of Christmas has nothing to do with materials possessions. It never has and never will. If you have found yourself too focused on gift giving, maybe it’s time to do a little mediation on your life, motives, and beliefs.
It is difficult to cope with grief any time of the year. As the holidays approach, the emotions become fresh again and the process of grieving comes full circle. For those who lost a loved one around the holidays it is more difficult. These usually happy times are dampened by the strong emotions of the loss. If you are close to someone who will be grieving this holiday, please be sensitive to it. Pay close attention to the signs of depression that tend to creep in. This is the most critical time to offer your selfless fully attentive support. Neglecting a grieving person at this time of the year is the wrong thing to do! If you aren’t sure what to say that will help, here is a list of things not to say. Anything else is likely to be helpful 😉
If you are the one directly affected by grief this holiday, please reach out to someone you trust. Sharing our feelings are part of the grieving process. Sometimes it really helps to talk about the person and how you feel. Don’t bottle it all in and withdraw. There are many people who love you. Some of the ones that you thought rejected your feelings in the beginning may be there for you now that they understand more about how to help you! Grief is a terrible monster around Christmas and it can rob us of our Joy if we allow it to. Fight back this holiday by celebrating the loved one you lost in a new way.
The holidays are super hard to get through when you are suffering from depression. Even the most “normal” person (if one truly does exist) around this time of year can go through depression. Depression can be brought on from pressure placed on you from an employer, your family, your children, you neighbors, or even… yourself. Self inflicted depression is brought on many times through financial pressures. This is a normal human response if you get too deep in debt or just don’t have enough money to buy everyone the gifts they expect. Depression is nasty little beast that will rob you of your happiness if not kept in-check. Seasonal Affective Disorder is also something to keep in mind. People who are influenced by SAD will begin showing signs well before the holidays come, so keeping an eye on them is critical.
If you were suffering from depression before the holidays, you should already have a support group (or person) lined up to assist and be aware of your behaviors. We cannot allow depression to rule our lives, rob us of the Joy we deserve to feel, and steal the happiness that should be felt around Christmas time & the New Year. Since Christmas is approaching quickly, here are some exercises to begin now so your mind is prepped for Christmas.
- When you wake up in the morning, think of at least 3 great things that you are thankful for. These things could be as small as the bed you are laying in or as large as having electricity to stay warm! If you struggle to come up with 3, look around the room. I guarantee you will find at least 3 things that your life would be miserable without. (It would be pretty uncomfortable to be without a bed & pillow, so there are 2 things!)
- Before you have lunch, name at least 3 things that have worked out so far in this day. (If not tripping on your way to the bathroom is one of them, it still counts! If you are a man, hitting the hole when you pee counts.)
- As the day winds down, perhaps after supper, name at least 3 things that were good in the day. If you can’t come up with something good, at least name something that wasn’t bad.
If you get in the habit daily, your mind will redirect towards positivity. It takes practice and there’s more to the brain re-wiring process, but this is a good start during the holidays.
Tell me about your holiday stress or coping mechanisms in the comments below.