Gary's Guidance: Keeping Spirits High During the Holiday Season

December 2010

The holiday season usually brings a variety of opportunities for one to spend time with their family, friends, and even meet new acquaintances.  Generally, the holiday season is a time of joy, cheer, parties, and family gatherings.  It can be a time of giving and showing how much you care for someone.  However, many factors can produce stress and cause one’s spirits to be low.  For many people the holidays are dreaded as the season approaches.  The holiday season can be a time of tension, loneliness, focus upon the loss of loved ones, and hurt and past failures.  Even anxiety and depression may occur with some people.  Perhaps adding to a feeling of “holiday blues” are unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, over-commercialization, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends.  Whatever the reason for experiencing holiday-related problems, there are some things that you can do to try to feel better, or at least minimize their impact upon you.

Holiday Coping Tips:

Plan only what you can handle by not cramming too many things into too little time.  Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.  All the gift buying, cooking, traveling, and visiting amounts to a lot of work. Make lists of only the important things that need to be done. Ask another person for help — sharing responsibility is simply easier.

Limit spending and avoid going into debt.  Last-minute shopping can result in over-spending. Enjoy free activities like seeing parades, viewing holiday decorations, going window shopping and attending community-sponsored holiday events.

Maintain your normal routine that hopefully includes spending time for yourself.  Perhaps schedule time for exercise and going for walks indoors or outside.  Engage in regular hobbies or those “feel good activities” that bring you pleasure and joy.

Avoid putting too much emphasis on the holiday. Spread your contacts and emotions out at other times during the year.

Do not confront sensitive interpersonal issues with family or friends during holiday time.

Leave yesteryear in the past.  Avoid setting yourself up for disappointment by comparing this year’s holiday with past holidays.

Pick people to spend time with you who are supportive, caring and fun. Avoid or limit time with people who are a negative influence.

Use the holidays to renew one’s faith or spiritual beliefs/ values.

Do something kind for someone.

Gary Kozick, LCSW

Originally appeared in the Arbor Terrace: A Senior Living Residence monthly newsletter, December 2010)