Thursday, December 6, 2012

Coping With The Holidays 

I hope this blog finds everyone having had a nice Thanksgiving. Some people love the holidays, some people hate the holidays, some people tolerate the holidays and some people are just overwhelmed by the holidays. Where ever you are on this continuum, you don’t need to adapt to the holiday season, rather, make the holiday season adapt to you. At this point you are probably asking yourself what I am talking about. Depending on where we are in our lives, our history will interact with and influence our experience of the holiday season. If we are older and have already experienced many losses, or we have experienced significant losses at any age, we may focus on the people we miss. We may miss past holidays that were good or we may remember in too much detail past holidays that were not so good, or even traumatic. We may feel pressured to make the holiday a certain way for our children, family members and friends, resulting in stress and anger instead of joy and happiness. We may also feel pressured to keep old family traditions alive, but they may no longer work for us. This is where we get back to making the holiday season adapt to you. It is so important to stay in the here and now. While most of us have people that we miss either due to death or distance, we need to focus on whom and what is in our lives now. If you don’t like crowds, don’t go to Black Friday and stay away from the malls in mid-day.
Go shopping at dinner time when the mall empties out or go to stores that are either not in the mall or have their own entrance. Give yourself permission to not overextend the holiday budget and make a plan of action regarding what you can spend for each person on your list. If you love to decorate, decorate. If you don’t love to decorate, then don’t. If you want to decorate differently this year, then do that. If you like holiday parties, then go to them, and if you don’t, then don’t go. If you like to entertain, then entertain and if you don’t, then don’t. Some traditions you may wish to keep and some you may wish to replace with new ones. I hope you are getting the message to embrace the holidays in anyway that works for you. Some years you may go away and some years you may stay home or visit friends and/or family. Each year does not have to be the same if you don’t want it to be, or it can be as similar to past years as you wish to make it. If you have children grieving, don’t minimize their grief, but don’t make the entire holiday about grieving. Show your children the balance of missing people, but still going forward and living life. If you have had trauma in your past associated with holidays, remind yourself that you are older, wiser, and stronger and your current holidays belong to you and not to your past. Patients often ask me for suggestions for gifts and activities for children. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider.
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