The Wellness Corporation® Notifications
Handling the Holidays
What exactly do we mean when we talk about "the Holidays?" Are the Holidays the twelve days of Christian Christmas, the eight days of the Jewish Hanukkah, the seven day African American Kwanza, Muslim Ramadan, or simply the period of time between Halloween and New Year's Day? Holidays mean different things to different people, and "the Holidays," is no exception. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines "holiday" as a holy day, or a day of freedom from labor, or even a period of relaxation. All or none of these definitions may apply to your sense of the holidays.
Many of us will end the holidays sad, not happy. Exhausted, not refreshed. We may harm our health - and our finances. We may experience loneliness, even while surrounded by friends and family. We could end the holidays suffering with depression. Much of this misery can be avoided. Here are a few of the holiday traps, and how to avoid them.
Too often we have inflated expectations that just are not realistic. Such over-expecting puts others and ourselves under terrible pressure and stress. We may expect old animosities to be forgotten, or at least forgiven; we may expect a greater response from friends or family than they are capable of making; we may find ourselves unable to meet expectations of others. We feel set up for disappointment and frustration.
The solution? Be realistic out loud. Discuss your plans with those close to you - family and friends. Set realistic limits. Do you have multiple sets of relatives and in-laws and friends? Can you honestly visit with everyone? Give presents to everyone? Have meals with everyone? Not argue with anyone? Follow these four steps: 1. Make realistic plans. 2. Talk about them with those involved. 3. Lower your expectations. 4. Relax.
We use a language during the holidays that can trap us in unhealthy behaviors. We call overeating "feasting." We call compulsive spending "generosity." We call over-drinking "having the holiday spirit." And we pay financially, physically, and emotionally - sometimes far more than we can afford.
The best way to avoid over-indulging is to think and talk about it in advance. Make some resolutions up-front about everything, including holiday gatherings, overeating and drinking. Set practical limits on how many gifts to give and how much to spend. Talking openly about these issues will go far toward reducing a great deal of self-imposed stress. By limiting your eating and drinking, you will find that you feel physically better, and less fatigued. By setting a budget, you will find it easier to avoid the financial stress of over-spending.
The holiday season can be a lonely time when we have undergone major life-changes. This could be the first holiday without a spouse, lover, or child. Even so, there is nothing wrong with spending the holidays alone - unless you are lonely.
It helps to talk, to address the hurts and conflicts explicitly. It helps to talk with others who have had similar experiences. It also helps to be involved with others: holiday time does not necessarily mean family time. Talk with friends to find out what their plans are - organize a gathering of your own. Rather than indulge in frantic festivities and other escape activities, share through volunteer activities: helping at a shelter, community center, or nursing home.
Struggling with a personal or family issue?
CALL YOUR EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (EAP).
To make an appointment with an EAP counselor, call +1 (800) 828-6025 or +1 (508) 842-2780 Mondays through Thursdays between 8:30 AM and 6 PM Eastern Time or between 8:30 AM and 5 PM on Fridays.
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Last modified: January 22, 2009 16:11:07