The holidays truly can be the most wonderful time of the year, but they also come with their fair share of stress, busyness, and burnout. Finding the perfect gifts, navigating all the sales (Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Small Business Saturday! Flash Sale!), getting everything wrapped, shipped, picked up, and under the tree in time can be absolutely overwhelming. And we haven’t even mentioned relatives or meal planning yet!
On the flip side, the holidays can also be a time when grief, isolation, depression, and anxiety can really rear their ugly heads – especially if you find yourself longing for the busier, merrier holidays of yore. At Capitol Counseling, we see you and are here to help you through this time if you need us, whether that be via this article or a visit to our office.
In the meantime, check out these three tips from psychologist Diana Hill to help you maintain control over your stress reactions and enjoy a truly happy, meaningful holiday season.
Know What Counterproductive Coping Mechanisms You’re Prone To
Aristotle gave some of the best advice that’s ever been given when he said that “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” That’s true in virtually every situation, and can be especially helpful around the holidays. During a moment of peace, take some time to consider what maladaptive coping mechanisms you turn to when you’re stressed. Do you overexercise? Do you overeat? Indulge in substances like alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, or other drugs? Do you cancel all your plans and hide away in your home? Are you too hard on yourself or others? Do you procrastinate? Engate in ‘retail therapy?’ (No judgment – we’ve all been there.)
Although spending, eating, endorphins, technology, alone time, and more are all great things when kept in balance, they are also often things that can become hobbles when what we’d really like to do – metaphorically speaking – is run. Nearly everyone longs for their holiday season to truly be merry and bright, and the best way to make that happen is to know how you can enjoy them while keeping your confidence and self-respect intact. The first step? Knowing where you turn to for comfort in times of stress. Then, you’ll know where to set healthy boundaries and monitor yourself closely and with compassion.
Practice Self Compassion
We think Dr. Hill said it best in her recent blog article for Psychology Today. “You don’t need special scented candles to practice self-love,” she writes. “It is available to you all the time, wherever you are.”
Take that message to heart! Decades of research have shown that self-compassion has a host of both physical and mental benefits, and there’s no better time to practice it than during the holiday season. Whether you’re dealing with grief, stress, or frustration, everyone faces challenges unique to their situation during this season. Instead of beating yourself up, try turning inward with respect, courage, and encouragement. Perhaps you’ll find that the gift of your own kindness is the best gift you receive this year.
Keep The Focus On Fun
We’re pretty sure we stole that from a Disney movie, but only because they were right on the money when they said it. The Holidays can seem like a month and a half of endless to-do’s, especially if you’re involved in work, school, church, community, and other obligations (and most people we know have several, if not all of those items on their plates.) Be mindful of what you say yes to, and don’t be afraid to take a step back from the busyness of it all and just take some time for the people that matter most.
Erin Westgate, a renowned social psychologist, has said that a well-lived life has three components to it:
- Happiness: experiencing pleasure, comfort, and security
- Meaning: feeling like you are making a difference in the world
- Psychological Richness: having perspective-shifting experiences full of variety and interest
This holiday season, take a moment to think about how you can incorporate more of those three things into your life. We wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and a new year filled with hope, joy, and promise.
If you would like to get in touch with us, please give us a call at (307) 631-5574.