How to avoid the emotional toll of the Christmas holiday

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Christmas is a time of emotional highs and lows. Loneliness, anxiety, happiness and sadness are common moods during the holidays.

However, if you plan ahead — the mixed emotions sometimes felt at Christmas and the New Year can be eased and even remedied.

The main question we often ask ourselves is why? Why do the blues hit during what is supposed to be an otherwise joyful time of year?

It’s because people associate the Christmas holiday with memories of relationship problems and personal losses. Unlike clinical depression, which is more severe and can last for months or years, these feelings are fleeting.

It’s vital that you develop a holiday plan to help prevent the blues, one that will confront unpleasant memories before they threaten your holiday experience. Your plan should include self-care, enhanced support from others, and healthy ways to celebrate. Now the good news!

Here are a few suggestions to achieve a joyful holiday season:

Take care of you. Take some quiet time each day and work on an attitude of gratitude. Slow down and take care of you! Meditation and the gym are always good! Plan relaxation into your day, no matter how busy you are. This will ultimately help you to reduce awe-inspiring demands and obligations.

Don’t overeat. Make sure to eat a balanced diet. Be aware of the holiday sweets. Monitor your intake of caffeine, nicotine and sugar. Again…exercise will help maintain your energy level during the busiest time of the year. Please refrain from doing too much. Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Fatigue is a huge stressor. Please don’t wait until the last minute to purchase gifts or prepare to entertain. Stay on task with your schedule and plan ahead.

Lean on your support system. Stay in touch with your therapist, a supportive family member, spiritual adviser, and friends. Just say “no” to the things that make you uncomfortable.

Do not explain. How many times have you heard somebody ask you that proverbial question — ”why are you not drinking?” or “you don’t drink?” Unfortunately, it’s one of the hazards of Christmas and the New Year. And while some people will recommend having an answer ready — I say you have no obligation to provide an answer at all. Sometimes the best approach is to just say, “I do not drink alcohol,” and then refuse to go any deeper into that conversation.

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