Happy 2019 to you and your loved ones!
Over the past few weeks, people have shared with me how stressed out they feel before, during and after the holiday season. If this does not apply to you, then maybe this message won’t be helpful for you. But if you relate to feeling that the stress of this time of year outweighs the enjoyment, then I want you to feel that you are not the only one.
People feel stressed about buying gifts for people who basically have everything. Or they feel stressed about having to cook and entertain. Some people’s expectations are their own worst enemy. For others, they aren’t even fully conscious of why they are stressed. Sometimes it is a layer of grieving a loss of a loved one who is missing at this time of year.
Then there is the perfect storm of family and food. There is a saying that family pushes our buttons because they installed them. The holidays bring people together who may have unfinished business and this can bring up uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. Combine this with tons of comfort food and you have a “recipe” for overeating and weight gain.
We are also exposed to constant images of happiness during the holidays, so even if we were feeling at our baseline stress & mood level, we might feel depressed if we compare ourselves to those images.
But, enough about the negative. Another saying is: When we focus on the problem, we see more of the problem. When we focus on the solution, we see more of the solution.
So what really prompted me to write this message to you in addition to making you feel less alone, is that now is the time to plan for the next holiday season. What if you wrote a letter to your future self while this year’s holidays are still fresh in your mind? What could you do differently next year to make the holidays less stressful for yourself? What would you do differently with gift giving? What could you do differently with food and cooking? What could you do to tip the scales so that the enjoyment is greater than the stress? I am intentionally keeping these questions open-ended because I don’t have your answers, but I do know where to find them – inside you!
See you soon! Dr. Beth