Holidays are supposed to be happy times, so why do so many people get stressed and depressed?
Some reasons include: expectations of how it's supposed to be, strained family relationships, not having a loved one, not enough time to do all the holiday stuff, money troubles and food fears. Every situation is different, but it’s all in one’s attitude as to how one makes it through difficulty and stress.
When the holidays turn into something to “get through” rather than something to celebrate, it is time to take another look because something is wrong.
Find ways to think differently about what the holidays can mean to you. Rather than break down under the stress and expecttions, the holidays can be used as a time to be creative and do things you like to do and wouldn't ordinarily take the time for : Acknowledge friends and telling them how you feel about them, bake goodies to give to others, give clothing to homeless shelters, get together for singing, make homemade cards and gifts.
For those who struggle with food issues, the holidays pose an additional anxiety and pressure. Food is often a big part of holiday celebrations, which go on all month. It is helpful to have some general guidelines for yourself to make it less overwhelming.
# 1 Don't say anything about anyone else's weight or food intake, and don't react if someone says something to you. Don’t let one person’s opinions make or break your holidays.
# 2 Put things in perspective.
- Remember that a holiday party, and the holidays in general, are really just a short period of time. It’s often easier to get through things when you realize there’s an end in sight.
- Issues of food and weight should be put in perspective. Remind yourself that weight and body size don’t have to be the main focus of your life. Remember all the other important things in life.
- Ask yourself what is the worse that can happen if you gain a couple of pounds.
# 3 Balance is the key.
- Focus on cans not cant’s. There are no bad foods, no certain food will make you fat, but there are bad eating habits. Eat in moderation, but don't deny yourself something you want.
- Avoid all or nothing/black or white thinking and behavior.
- Plan to indulge on some yummy treats. If you don't, you’ll have unrealistic persecutory expectations if/when you eat something you hadn’t planned for.
- Don't be on or off a diet. Diets don’t work anyway. Instead be on an overall balanced and healthy eating plan.
- Add physical things to your routine. Take walks with friends, dance, ride bikes with the kids.
- Make sure to find your favorite creative ways to celebrate the holidays without involving food.
# 4 Plan ahead.
- Plan special time for yourself to "get away" from the holiday stress. Get a manicure, go to the park, take a bubble bath.
- Bring treats your feel comfortable with to a party as a gift to your host or hostess.
# 5 Be on the offense not the defense.
- If your relatives are coming to you, you can take control and be responsible for the food and activities.
- Have plenty of things to do to take your mind off of food – trimming the tree, movies, walks, holiday shopping, picnics at park/ beach.
- If you have a problem with a relative but have to see them over the holidays, take responsibility for making it better/livable – write a letter or take the person aside and talk if you need to. Otherwise…let it go and be your best self.
- Create your own image of family not the idyllic t.v. family. Know what is realistic for you and your loved ones.
- Let the people you love know what a gift they are to you.
- Don't see things as an obligation, if you can't… then don't, or if possible do things differently.
- Spend time spreading good will and showering people with love.
- Pretend that peace on earth is directly tied to your good will and to your behavior.
All the above guidelines won’t ensure happy holidays, but they will help make things merrier and less stressful. It’s important to figure out what works for you and to remember that you have a part in making the holidays all that they can and are supposed to be.