Ah, they are sneaking up on us - signs of imminent holidays. Decorations are popping up both indoors and outdoors, there is faint hint of a jingle in the air, commercials are calling out, media programming reflects that 'tis the season, and stores are starting to buzz. The holidays can fill us with excitement, anticipation, joy, and...stress. There are parties to attend and/or throw, family get-togethers to get through, gifts to buy (if you're giving), homes and spaces to decorate, and work deadlines to meet.
For almost anyone, the holidays are accompanied by mixed feelings. The season calls for celebration, companionship, and (for many) spiritual reflection. Yet we also often find ourselves confronted by hastiness, feelings of running out of time, financial challenges, and navigating the minefield of family relationships and related politics.
How can we stay grounded in the next few weeks? Here are some things to consider:
1. Set healthy boundaries with yourself and others. This means knowing when to say no. It also means not letting yourself get pulled into toxic relationship dynamics, often rekindled at family get-togethers. Pick and fight your own battles, and let others do the same. Know when to step out and give yourself time to catch your breath.
2. Practice self-care. This means staying in tune with your stress level and practicing active stress-management. Pay attention to your body - the holidays often pack on the pounds, so set your food goals early on. This could mean limiting your intake of sweets (just one cookie for me, thanks) and avoiding going back for seconds. Make time to exercise. Make time to relax with a cup of tea.
3. Connect meaningfully. Think about the relationships in your life which leave you filling energized instead of depleted. In the holiday rush, we may lack time to make that phone call or have coffee with a friend. Be mindful of your time to allow for meaningful conversations and connections. Holidays can be a time of sadness and loneliness. Seek support when needed.
4. Take time to reflect. Make sure to allow space for spirituality or meaning, whatever this means to you personally, during this season.
If you are having trouble navigating the many stressors of the holiday season, support is essential. Sometimes, talking to mental health professional can help. I'm a Houston psychologist, visit my website at DrGortner.com for more information.