Holiday Stress…What To Do About It.

I was once asked if more people seek talk therapy during the holiday season than at other times of the year. It’s a good question, since it doesn’t take much to set us off when expectations are so unreasonably high. Magic and peace and togetherness are pretty tall orders, and the American capitalism machine won’t let you forget about any of it between Halloween and January 2nd.

While I don’t necessarily see greater outreach from new patients during the holidays than in other months, I DO note a lot of holiday-related anxiety and depression as people begin the countdown. That’s usually because there can be quite a chasm between what your Insta feed says the holiday season should be like and how each person actually experiences it.  Even without a pandemic and political strife getting in the way, I hear it all:

  • The pressure to ensure that the holidays are perfect for the kids
  • The pressure to travel
  • The pressure to see relatives that do not serve joy, calm nor support
  • The pressure to spend a lot of money – often more than one reasonably has
  • The pressure to get everyone in the family to smile for that damned holiday card pic (aka the fast-track to Misery Town)
  • The pressure to make the perfect meal
  • The pressure to hold it together while seated right next to racist Aunt Debbie
  • The pressure to secure wild New Year’s Eve plans (despite the fact that you’d much prefer to eat takeout right out of the carton while donning comfy PJs and knocking out by 10pm)
  • The pressure…
  • The pressure…
  • The pressure…

(Notice a pattern here?)

This giant garbage bag of emotions often leaves us feeling exhausted, inadequate and burned out. What can you do about it? There are lots of places on this ol’ internet that dole out great suggestions, but I’ll try to sum up my advice into one word: BOUNDARIES. Think ‘em up, set ‘em up and don’t let your guard down until it’s all in your rearview for yet another year. This doesn’t mean you shut it all out (unless you want to). It does mean that do your level best to say “no” when necessary, and to weave in lots of care for yourself along with the obligatory.

From all of us to all of you – we wish you happiness and good health on your own terms during this season and always!

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