As 2019 is coming to a close and the holidays are amongst us, it’s important to pay attention to your holiday stress level. As an Orlando counselor, my goal is to help you remember how to take care of yourself when the holidays feel like they bring more stress than joy every year.
Family can be one major cause of holiday stress. Everyone has a different family dynamic and this can make a holiday gathering terrible or great. Not everyone in your life has a similar family dynamic. If you have a friend or significant other who doesn’t enjoy the holidays, it could be due to family-related trauma, or lack of family ties. It's important to remember that you and the people you know have options when it comes to how to celebrate the holidays. Learn your boundaries, as well as theirs, and support one another if the traditional family holiday isn't one of those options. Take great gratitude in those you love. Have that Friendsgiving because it may be the only one someone you love gets.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time that we take a pause on our goals and “allow” ourselves to feast. Sometimes people spend the weeks or months beforehand "prepping" for the feast and fearing how it will impact them. They forget that one meal does not erase everyday consistency and stress over the food, dessert, or drinks they consume. The best way to move past guilt or shame over enjoying a holiday meal is to stop bargaining with yourself. Do what makes you happy. Erase the concept of giving yourself permission to enjoy a meal with friends or family.
Don’t apologize for establishing boundaries before a holiday event. We are wired as humans to automatically apologize. Whether it comes from being a people-pleaser or the circumstances you are in (such as your work environment) you need to remember that it is ok to say no or set guidelines. Stick to your boundaries and attempt to find new verbiage. Instead of saying “sorry I can’t make it,” say “thank you for the invitation, however, I won’t be able to make it”. Communication is key in your boundary setting, especially during holiday time when you are expected to attend more events, parties and spend time with family.
If you’re stressing the holidays due to family triggers, I highly recommend talking through some of these with an Orlando counselor or an unbiased friend so you can better prepare yourself for topics, certain relatives, or behaviors that are consistent. The more prepared you are, the more your boundaries are upheld. Ask yourself is guilt or expectation the major motivator to attending this event? Analyze how you feel after interactions with certain individuals. Do I feel exhausted and drained after spending time with you or do I feel energized, motivated? This goes for friends and family.
If you’re a type-A personality, reflect on your resolutions from this year. What did you accomplish? What didn’t you accomplish? And if you can, ask yourself why this was a resolution to begin with? Are you internally motivated or are you comparing yourself to others to fulfill a void? Practice grace in formulating new resolutions that fit into your lifestyle. Perhaps try to focus on nonmaterial things outside of fitness and diet. Think of your personality, your boundaries, your role in relationships. Intrinsic motivations and behaviors that maybe only you can see! Start there are work your way back out.
If you or someone you know undergoes more stress, anxiety or depression throughout the holiday season and would benefit from dissecting these triggers or learning to better prepare, reach out to an Orlando counselor at Orlando Thrive Therapy today. To speak to the author of this blog, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thrive on!
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.