Los Angeles Area Mental Health & Wellness
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Managing the Holidays

Image courtesy of  Apoloniaat FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another holiday season is upon us and you may be wondering why you’re feeling down, stressed and grouchy when you ‘should’ be cheerful and celebrating.

The holidays can be a double edged sword when it’s focus is on the tradition, the presentation, potential financial strain, obligations with family and the ‘have-to’s’. These can be enjoyable and equally stress producing. When you’re putting pressure on yourself to be a great host, family member, gift giver and attempting to exceed other’s expectations, it is easy to get lost in the process and not enjoy it.

A few tips that may ease the expectation of self or others:

Communication, as always, is key. Discussing with loved ones a subtle key phrase to excuse yourself for a ‘time out’ established in advance can help reduce the stress. If all parties understand that you may be struggling or that a very full and nonstop day may be more than you can physically or emotionally handle will lead to all parties handling the situation gracefully.

Continue to take care of yourself. It is easy for self care to be put on the back-burner when times are stressful or expectations are running high. This in fact is one of the worst times to let your most effective self care behaviors and routines go. Maintaining your stability as much as possible in during difficult periods will help maintain and manage difficult situations, interactions and people. This includes maintaining physical activity, the amount of sleep and healthy eating regularly.

Expectations of self being put in perspective. This is another form of self care. Being aware of your ability and limitations and how they can change on a daily basis, due to many factors, will help maintain your energy and sociability in a group situation. It’s very easy to be kind and forgiving towards others yet we do not always extend the same courtesy to ourselves. Allowing yourself to enjoy things even if things aren’t ‘perfect’. Perfection is an illusion, an unattainable standard we set ourselves up against and will inevitably fail to attain. Maintaining flexibility rather than fighting against them will allow for increased ability to effectively problem solve and handle the stress rather than exhausting patience and energy unnecessarily.

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