Tips For Living Up to the Hype of the Holiday Season

By Jessi Hans, Vice President of Corporate Communications, Spectrum Healthcare

Ahhh… the sound of holiday music in every store, the bells ringing, and the shopping ads stacking up in your inbox. Yes, it’s here, and you know what that means. It’s only a matter of time and you’ll be hearing Mariah Carey’s signature sound in every tinseled store, wrapping gifts, and receiving strange gifts at white elephant parties.

What is it about this time of year that creates the ambiance and expectation of golden lit warmth, decorations of perfection, and the love we only find in a Lifetime holiday movie? And how do we ever live up to the hype?

To be honest, we usually don’t. Holidays can be a time of celebration and closeness, but they can also be a time when we feel the inverse. In fact, many people report feeling the blues during these months and the National Alliance for Mental Health research shows that three out of five Americans feel their mental health is negatively impacted during the holidays, adding up to about 200 million people in this country. That’s surely not showing up in the jingle jangling commercials we are seeing while we watch The Christmas Story for the 57th time.

Those are some staggering statistics, but let’s not get too, “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” about it.  Feeling down, anxious, or overwhelmed can be tough, but there are some things we can do proactively to reduce these emotions, such as:

  • Create the holiday expectations you feel confident in meeting and enjoying.
  • Maintain the routines that keep you feeling your best: exercise, hobbies, spiritual connection.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. Overspending can create a whole new stressor!
  • Schedule a visit with a professional counselor during this season; we know a few!
  • Prepare for gatherings with realistic expectations of others.
  • Treat yourself to something you love, even a hot bath can be a nice break!

But remember, all the routines in the world cannot keep us from feelings that can arise in a moment. It’s natural to experience a lot of emotions around the holidays, when gathering with family, or when being without a loved one for the first time during the season. If and when you find yourself in a whirlwind of feelings, here are a few things to try to calm the storm a bit:

  • Take swift breaths in and release out slowly.
  • Put your bare feet on the ground and feel the texture of the floor beneath you.
  • Vent in a safe space or talk yourself through the situation.
  • Reach out to a therapist or help line.
  • Meditate
  • Sing your favorite song with your whole voice.

All in all, have patience and understanding for yourself.  If things seems to be more than what a few quick tips and tricks can help with, be sure to seek professional help.

So whether you’re singing “Have a holly jolly Christmas” or “Bells will be ringing a sad, sad song,” don’t be afraid to share the sentiment with a loved one, professional, or just someone that seems easy to talk to.  Remember, a New Year is right around the corner, bringing a new beginning and fresh start. Happy Holidays!

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