There is a unique type of stress that accompanies this time of year. Everywhere that we look we are reminded of how wonderful the holidays are to everyone. If we don’t have warm, fuzzy feelings centered around these days then we not only feel like we’re missing something, we also feel like we’re on the outside looking in. This is akin to “depersonalization”, where we may have the sensation of observing ourselves from outside the body or have a sense that our surroundings aren’t real. This feeling of isolation, of being lonely in a crowded room can escalate into full blown mental illness. Many people commit suicide this time of year. See a doctor if you have thoughts of self harm.
The worst thing that we can do is nothing. If we don’t take active steps to be healthy during periods of high stress, the stress will win. Our health and relationships will suffer. Our performance on our jobs will most likely deteriorate. The psychological and financial strain of these highly commercialized days becomes bigger than our ability to make rational decisions and rash decisions are made instead. Once major changes are put into play, the uncertainty of the outcomes of those decisions impact our lives and thinking even more. A self destructive cycle has begun and self harm becomes a reality, if only in the form of binge drinking or eating. All the drama that we see played out around us during this time is the result of bad small decisions snowballing into bad big decisions.
Steps To Take
There are a few things that we can do for ourselves that will increase our chances of surviving this season healthy and intact. 
1-Forget perfection. This is the main problem with the holidays for many. It doesn’t matter what you think is the ideal holiday. Take what you have and work with it. It WON”T BE PERFECT. Get used to it.
2-Quit worrying already. This is not the same as perfectionism. It’s a morbid dread that something terrible is going to happen. Odds are, it won’t. Run with the odds.
3-Be grateful. Look around…or inside…there’s something to be grateful for. Gratitude changes our perspective of the world. Instead of lamenting that you don’t have enough money to buy everyone the perfect gift, be thankful that you do have food for them and that you have people who care about you in your life.
4- Just say “NO!” Don’t try to do too much, period.
5- Get rejuvenating exercise. Walk outside without a headset.
6-Detox from stimulation. Keep your environment quiet. Make holiday lights glow softly instead of flash and put down that technology for a while.
7-Create new traditions. Old traditions can bring back painful memories. Do something different.
8-Eat healthy and limit alcohol, or better yet, avoid it entirely.
9-Get plenty of sleep.
10-Remember, this too will pass. Spring is on the way.
11- Turn ALL the lights on. While natural sunlight has the best anti-depressant effect, any light can make a difference during this dark time. Brighten up your world.
I fought perfectionism for many years during this time. It’s true buzz-kill. I have had to realize that a perfect holiday was not going to happen. I’m thinking about starting some new traditions where perfectionism is not even an option. Hiking in the Smokies or parasailing in the Caribbean are not perfect friendly, but they sure are fun. I’m looking into such pastimes for the season.
I have known people who had painful memories of the holidays. Again, create new traditions and exorcise the demons of the past.
Blaze your own trail through these days with good nutrition and healthy activities. Make these days yours, always remembering, it only comes once in a year. Be grateful. ;-*
2 Comments Add yours
Those are all very important points and tips to be taken to heart. Thank you for such a thoughtful article.
Thank you, and you’re welcome, my pleasure, David.