By: Patricia R. McGettigan, MS, Licensed Psychologist, Director of the Holy Redeemer Counseling Center
Guess what is just around the corner—the holidays. When you realize that fact do you think pleasant thoughts or do you cringe about how stressed you will become?
Stores are already gearing up for what they hope will be the big rush, the frenzy. Are you? Starting with Thanksgiving, plans begin to be made or traditions followed in which we gather with those close to us and to give thanks for all that we have. And then the countdown, and often the stress, begins.
Stress can come from a variety of areas. For some, being with family can be the source of stress. Questions and concerns arise about which side of the family to spend time with, whose feelings will be hurt and can we afford the cost of traveling? For others, being estranged from family or not having family can bring on sadness as they look around and see everyone else having someone to be with. It can be the first holiday season since a family member passed away and the loss of that loved one will be felt so deeply. For others the holidays can be a financial strain as the desire to meet the expectations of everyone overpowers the reality of the budget. Wanting everything to be “perfect” can set us up for disappointment and let down. And then there is time or lack of it to buy, cook, bake, visit and still take care of the responsibilities of everyday life.
Do you feel sad and stressed just reading the previous paragraph? Does it all seem overwhelming and exhausting? Is that what you wanted the holidays to become or had you pictured holding onto some of the magic, beauty and meaning of the holidays you had in years past?
We cannot, nor should we try to, rid ourselves of all stress as some stress is good but managing it becomes important especially during the holiday season. The first thing we need to do is identify the stressors. You cannot manage something if you do not know what it is you are trying to manage. Is it finances? Is it expectations you or others place on yourself? Is it fear of how you will feel? Is it family dynamics that often are tense? Is it all of the above?
Once you have identified the sources of your stress there are some ways to be proactive and actually prevent some of the stress:
- Plan ahead – plan the schedule you WANT to follow and coordinate it with those who are involved in your holiday plans. Plan the menu, and the time for cooking and preparations
- Set a budget for food, decorations, gift buying and stick to it – this prevents the feeling of catching up with bills the rest of the year
- Be realistic – about your time, your money, and your energy
- Learn to say NO – you are one person and you just can’t do it all nor should you
- Be flexible – even when we plan life can bring changes we weren’t expecting. Being rigid will only cause stress and tension
Following these guidelines might help you bring some of that magic and true spirit of the holidays back into your life and the lives of those you love.
Is it all just too much to handle right now? If you're feeling overwhelmed or think it’s time to consider speaking with a professional, the Holy Redeemer Counseling Center is here for you. Our team includes certified and licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, licensed psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.
To learn more about the Holy Redeemer Counseling Center, visit our Webpage or call 215-914-4190.