Dr. Purvi B. Gandhi

Specializing in Integrative Health & Wellness

‘Tis the Season

By Dr. Purvi Gandhi
Licensed Psychologist
Copyright © 2012

Well, the season is nearly upon us! The season full of festivities and fun! Or is it the season full of frenzy and a flurry of activities?? When you think of the holiday season, do you tense up and try to brace yourself for a whirlwind of stress and anxiety? It can happen every holiday time…we lose sight of the warm, positive feelings of the season and become wrapped up in all the demands of the days. Here are a few strategies to help put a little spirit back into your life and help you stay sane through it all!

Let’s start with a little activity. Grab a sheet of paper and write down your ideas of a wonderful holiday season. Make a list of the activities (be specific) and the feelings you would like to create during this time.

  1. Now, review your list and determine if you set realistic expectations. Remember that you do not have to create a perfect holiday memory or replicate all or most of your childhood holiday experiences. There may be some traditions that you do want to continue, but there may be others you may want to change or drop all together. Consider being flexible on some of your family traditions and rituals. You may want to think about starting new traditions, finding ones that fit better into your family’s schedule.
  2. Pencil It In: As your schedule fills up with various holiday activities, it can be helpful if you also schedule in your own holiday tasks, such as decorating, shopping, and baking. Set aside time to complete these tasks by writing them into your schedule. And remember to overestimate the amount of time it will take to complete the task. For example, when you are penciling in the time to shop for a gift, include the travel time (and traffic time) to get to the mall.
  3. Make Your List & Check It Twice: Start early by creating a list of those that you would like to buy a gift for. But remember that the gift does NOT have to be perfect! Nor does it have to be expensive or extravagant. Spending a large amount of money or focusing only on finding the “perfect” gift can lead you to feel less in the giving mood and just more stressed. Another tip: instead of buying for everyone at the office or within a large group, consider starting an office exchange.
  4. Stick to a Budget: Before you start the holiday shopping, identify the amount of money you want to spend for the holidays. You may want to break that down even more by identifying the amount you want to spend on each person or family. One way to stay on track with your
    spending is to designate a bank account or credit card that is only for your holiday spending. To save a few bucks (and give a heart-felt gift), consider giving homemade gifts, such as baked goods or donating to a charity in someone’s name. Once you have your budget, Don’t
    Overspend!
  5. Delegate, delegate, delegate: One of the problems during this time of the year is all the tasks that you may feel like need to be completed. And they may need to be done…just not all by you! Delegate family members to specific tasks, such as buying some grocery items, putting up decorations, or making or bringing some dishes. Don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own. If you involve others, you can help reduce the amount of stress you feel and have others take responsibility for the festivities.
  6. N-O: This is a big one! And can be a tough one for some people to do. But learning to say “No” is necessary at times. In the middle of all the invitations, you have to take care of yourself and know your limits, in terms of time and energy. Just know that you cannot attend every party or gathering. Repeat after me: “Thank you, but no, I can’t.” Practice it!
  7. Keep Your Healthy Lifestyle: Sanity comes from having a balance in your life and taking care of yourself. That includes continuing some of the healthy activities you are used to doing, such as exercising and eating healthy. There will be times when you may overindulge in food or alcohol, but try to limit those times. Drinking water, hydrating, and getting adequate sleep will also help you maintain balance during this time. If you find that you tend to stress easily during the holidays (or at any time), consider taking yoga and meditation classes to learn how to reduce the stress you feel.

Most importantly, remember the joy of the season and allow yourself to experience that in small ways. Make sure you: Breathe, Laugh, Have Fun…..REPEAT

For some people, the holiday season can stir up some unpleasant emotions and lead to the holiday blues. Take some time to pay attention to how you feel during the holidays. Notice if you feel the holiday blues:

  • Feeling persistently sad, anxious, or crying frequently
  • Feeling agitated or irritated easily and hopeless
  • Feeling isolated from others
  • Frequent physical complaints

If you notice these symptoms, consider seeking professional help


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