Receptionist 303-986-4197
M – F • 8:30am – 5:00pm

How You Can Reduce The Stress About The Holidays And Actually Enjoy Them : Notes from a Denver Psychologist

How You Can Reduce The Stress About The Holidays And Actually Enjoy Them : Notes from a Denver Psychologist

Many people over the years have asked me if I see more people for appointments in my private office during holidays than other times. The answer is not really because everyone is too busy to schedule even one more thing.

So if you’re one of those people who is too busy to get help for yourself then you’re too busy. Its very common to ask others how they are and the answer is frequently very busy. This is said with a certain ambivalence. They are somewhat proud to be busy as that must mean they are important and needed. What it actually means is they are stressing themselves with too many demands.

When the holidays arrive there are even more demands placed on their shoulders by themselves and others. Most people shop more during these times as well as clean and organize their homes for possible visitors. In addition they feel obligated to attend social gatherings, parties etc. even if they donít really want to go. This creates an overload on an already too busy schedule so they feel overwhelmed, dreading the holidays rather than looking forward to them with joy and anticipation as they did when they were young and carefree.

Complicating the picture even more are feelings of depression or “down” feelings around this time of the year with the change in the weather and painful old memories of times in the past which were difficult or very disturbing. Some folks had parents who were very dysfunctional with drinking problems, troubled marriages or were emotionally and physically abusive. These old associative memories are naturally triggered during the holiday period. Thus many just want the holidays to be over.

Many wonder, what is the answer to prevent the same outcome of dreading the holidays rather than enjoying the festivities. First of all our personal histories may provide clues as well as the answers. If you had difficulty in the past around holidays its likely it will repeat unless you have made some significant changes.The mass media bombards us with their messages that can accelerate the frenzy of over-shopping and trying to appear happy when inwardly you are tired or exhausted.

If you believe the holidays will be a problem then they surely will be, and you will repeat your past. Albert Einstein was quoted as saying you can’t solve a problem with the mindset that created the problem. So the idea is develop a new mindset for this special time period.

What is needed is a different outlook and a plan. Examine your expectations of yourself and are they realistic given how very brief this time period is. The deeper question you can explore is what are you actually seeking for yourself during these holidays?

Most people respond by saying they want to feel connected with family and friends whom they don’t get to see much from during their routines. This all sounds fine but what is realistic to expect given the time constrictions? Remember if you put too much demand and expectations on you and others you are asking for trouble. The one choice we all have is to determine our personal expectations.

Now that you have looked at these expectations begin lowering them knowing that they won’t likely be noticed by anyone. If others expect them from you its because they are accustomed to you overworking. Don’t make the mistake of abandoning routines that are healthy and good like exercise. Rule of thumb should be that for everything you add subtract one nonessential from your to do list.

Don’t just have good intentions; instead, have good actions that not only benefit others but also include yourself. Remember the true meaning of the holiday so you will not drift too far into distractions. Give yourself the right to take good care of yourself and not get too busy. While the holidays are an important part of life they are not bigger than life. So keep it simple and balanced.

Plan on enjoying this time if at all possible. Stay balanced with the preparations so you enjoy the process not just the event that will be over before you know it.

Remember 80% of success is just to show up so you don’t miss it. Now if all else fails keep in mind this too shall pass.

This article was submitted by Dr. Thomas Calhoun, psychologist with Westside Behavioral Care in Denver, Colorado.