Its always fun to write about the parties and joy that come with the holidays, but all those festivities come with a fair amount of pressure. While it’s easy to discount those stresses as “luxury problems” they are real and can be triggered unexpectedly. Here are a few thoughts on combating/coping with the holiday blues–perhaps before it even strikes.
I used to have a friend who called Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years the Bermuda Triangle of Holidays and part of the reason was how draining this time of year can be on one’s finances. If you have to travel–perhaps multiple times–buy gifts for family, friends and hosts, decorate and still meet your monthly expenses it can add up really fast. Here are a couple solutions to consider…
Particularly useful among groups likes office communities or large families is to try a Secret Santa. How it works: members of said group are randomly assigned a person to whom they anonymously give a gift–setting a price limit is also good practice. To make it extra fun, you can encourage ‘Santas’ to send notes or little trinkets of appreciation to their recipient before the big reveal.
If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, one way to keep food costs in check is to get guests to bring their favorite holiday dishes and have a Potluck Party. This will require some coordination so you know how many appetizers, entrees and desserts you have coming and you’ll need to fill in the gaps. Plus, ask guests to bring recipe cards that can be snapped next to their dishes and shared as photo albums later on Flickr, Glossi or some other digital photo book site.
Our waistlines can take a hit during this time of year which is anxiety provoking to pretty much everyone, but particularly so for anyone with food, body or weight issues this can be especially hard. Having waged my own war with the scale / mirror, I understand how challenging this battle can be and am very grateful to not see hunger as an enemy to be fought anymore. I do know that I feel better when I am measured in how I indulge (for example, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day…not gorge that entire week) but on those occasions, I give myself permission to enjoy what I without constraints (no “forbidden foods”). I’ve also found that making sure I’ve eaten a high-protein meal before a party (egg white omelet, spinach and grilled chicken salad) helps me stay away from the less healthy choices. And when at a party, I try to decide where I want to indulge. If the dessert table looks amazing I stick to cocktail shrimp, crudités and hummus; if the savories are to die for dessert will likely be fruit.
Social Anxiety: And while we are talking about parties… Holiday gatherings can bring out some insecurities, particularly when it comes to socializing–especially when facing new people (maybe different departments at work a celebration) or mixing up group dynamics (like adding partners). Here’s what took me almost forty years to learn: pretty much everybody is already focused on themselves and their own insecurities to give a second thought to your short comings. Freeing isn’t it? Along the same lines, generally people like to talk about themselves, so when lost for conversation, find another lonely soul and ask them about themselves. They will likely be happy for the camaraderie. What to talk about? The holidays are abundant with topics: What are your plans this year? What did you do just do for Thanksgiving? What traditions did you grow up with? Where did you grow up? Will you be taking any time off? What do you do for a living? If one of those questions doesn’t segue into something more interesting, you should politely move on to another party-goer and wish them a Happy New Year.
Oh, the other thing I’ve learned, talking about money, sex and politics just doesn’t usual make “fun party” talk with a new group, and often times it ends in water cooler chatter the next day.
Holidays bring out the best, and sometimes the worst, in us and our loved ones. Invitations go out…or they don’t, words are exchanged and can’t be taken back and feelings get hurt. Grudges go unresolved and turn into resentment, hurt turns into anger. It’s funny, I once was so angry at someone for years and when my husband asked me why, I couldn’t remember the exact circumstance or reason for my ire. It’s easy to say we should put hurt feelings aside, much harder to do, but by asking: “does this matter, will it really matter one year, five years from now?” we may be able to see who and what counts.
In the age of statuses, tweets, emails, pins and such, the idea of being disconnected over a period of days or even weeks during the holidays can be daunting. It’s a hard one for me, I still have a hard time disconnecting during off-hours, but I find that it improves my sleep, my mood and even my patience. The best way to get through those first few days of anxiety: reminding myself that the world will not end even if my inbox is full and no one ever regretted spending more of their vacation on Facebook or Twitter.
- How to “Really” Beat The Holiday Blues & Suffering. (elephantjournal.com)
- How to Deal With 7 Major End-of-Year Stress Points (stylecaster.com)
- Ten ways to stop the holiday blues (holykaw.alltop.com)