Festive or Silly Holiday Season?

The holiday season is fast approaching, we can choose to make it festive, joyous time to relax and catch up with family and friends or we can turn it into a silly season and create more stress for ourselves than necessary.

We also need to be mindful that this time of the year is not necessarily a festive time for everyone, for some, it can trigger bouts of depression especially if someone close to them has recently died or they have been through a separation / divorce.

So how do we prevent stress or depression?

* Be realistic – family get together don’t have to be perfect. Try to be flexible with family obligations and arrangements as families change and grow, i.e. newly married, recent birth or divorce. Revaluate past traditions and rituals and be open to create new ones to cope with changes.
* Enjoy the moments – even when things are not perfect. Don’t expect family members and friends to live up to your expectations (as you don’t know what is going on for them). Accept them as they are and be understanding if the situation goes awry. Set aside grievances for discussion at another more appropriate time.
* Stick to a budget – decide how much money you can afford to spend on food and gift shopping then stick to your budget. Ask your loved ones what they want for Christmas instead of getting stressed out guessing what perfect gift to buy or how much you should spend on a gift, after all it’s the spirit of giving and being thoughtful that counts. Try alternative ways of gifting like: donate to a charity, give homemade gifts, do a Kris Kringle. It’s not worth overspending then getting stressed over credit card debt.
* Plan ahead – Make a shopping list to prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients or shops have sold out of items that you want. Plan your menus and guest list. Ask each guest to bring their favourite dish to share and make sure you line up helpers on the day – many pairs of hands will lighten the work load and reduce stress.
* Learn to say NO – feeling obligated to do something that you don’t want to can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed – remember you can’t be everything to everyone or attend every functions you are invited to.
* Don’t abandon healthy habits – overindulgence in food and too much alcohol consumption only adds to your guilt and stress. Get plenty of sleep and keep a regular physical activity daily.
* Make time for yourself – even spending just 30 minutes alone will restore your inner calm and re-energise you to handle everything you need to do.
* Acknowledge your feelings – it’s normal to feel sadness and grief if you can’t be with your loved ones or experience death of someone close to you. Take time to reflect on your loss, feel your emotions and grieve. You can’t force yourself to be cheerful/happy just because it’s a festive season.
* Reach out – if you feel lonely, seek support and companionship from your local community, religious or other social events. Volunteering your time to help others is also a good way to lift your spirits.
* Seek professional help – if you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, irritable and hopeless; you notice a change in your eating or sleep pattern, unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for quite sometimes, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.