Holiday Stress: Some Final Thoughts

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gingerbread_menFor the past several weeks we have posted blogs giving you suggestions about how to keep a handle on the stress that comes with the holiday season. This is our final blog of the "Holiday Stress" series, and we hope you have found it helpful. These final three points are particularly relevant as family members start to arrive, and all of your activities and hardwork come to fruition.
  • Set aside differences. Try to accept your family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too. It is important to think about how to decrease conflict and increasing your acceptance of other people. More often than not if you try not to take things too personally you will be happier and your friends and family will too.
  • Use humor. This is not about being able to tell funny stories or jokes. It is more about seeing the lighter side of life, identifying the ironies, and not taking yourself too seriously. Put others at ease, and you will feel calmer.
  • Express gratitude. It is so easy when everyone is expressing demands, upsets, irritations, and outlandish expectations to begin to feel negative, resentful, and unappreciated. Find something or someone for which you are grateful. It might be that you are the only one who knows what you are grateful for; but if you are grateful for something you can share, the sharing itself creates a sense of connection and calm (learn more about how to practice gratefulness here).

Above all, bear in mind that there is no "right" way to handle holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays. You and your family may decide to try several different approaches before finding one that feels best for you. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

- CharleneG. Gooch, PhD, MFT and the Families for Depression Awareness Staff

Read the past blogs in the "Holiday Stress" series!

Self Care

Communication and Frustration

Staying Balanced

Sources of Holiday Stress

Preparing for the Holiday Season

Family Profiles

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