As we enter December and holiday season, I hear often about the stress this time of year brings for people. Whether it is related to money, too many commitments, expectations of yourself or others, family or other issues, there is often something that makes this time of year a difficult one for many.
While everyone's situation is different, for those of you who are struggling with how you will cope over the next month, I would like to offer some general thoughts on making your holiday season less stressful:
* Be realistic about what you are able to do
* Limit the expectations you have of others
* Plan ahead as much as possible so you can pace yourself and allow some down time
* If money is an issue, make a budget and stick to it; online shopping may make this a bit easier for some (and may reduce your shopping-related stress)
* Focus on what is important to you and keep that in your thoughts - for most it is simply being with people you care about and making special memories
* Accept the things you cannot change especially in others
* Avoid topics that can cause you to get upset and be aware of them before going into a group situation
* It's okay to say 'no' if you cannot do something
* If the holidays bring up unhappy memories, try to make new positive ones - do something for yourself or change your environment - try to create new traditions
* If you don't have family or friends to celebrate with, consider volunteering your time with others who are less fortunate; alternately, you may want to visit residents in a seniors home
* Try not to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs
* Take care of yourself - eat properly, get sleep, exercise and make time to relax. If you are not feeling well, seek medical attention
If there is a senior in your life, try to include them in celebrations as much as possible. For many who have experienced loss, this time of year may be very difficult for them. As well, they may have physical limitations and mobility issues that add to their own stress. Recognize any issues they may have, be it physical or emotional, and do what you can to make this season easier for them as well. Sometimes helping others, may put your own concerns in perspective and change how you view them.
With each passing year, I recognize how finite time is. Whatever your situation is try to keep things in perspective. Be it one meal, one day or one week, your stress will be time limited and before long this holiday will simply turn into a distant memory.
I wish you all a lovely and warm holiday season!