Preparing for the Holidays
Junious Ricardo Stanton
As the holidays approach, it is important to remember this season can be especially stressful, sad or unpleasant for yourself and others due to the loss of loved ones, personal situations or the general melancholy shorter days and colder weather often bring on. Holidays are expected to be fun and enjoyable but often they are not. Don’t let the fact you are a little down stress you out even more.
Sometimes we just aren’t into it for whatever reason. Know that you are not alone, many are feeling the blues, the blahs and depressed during this time of year. If you are sad or depressed perhaps a change in thinking or refocusing your priorities will boost your spirits. You don’t have to keep up with the Jones, buy and spend beyond your means to enjoy the holiday. You don’t have to bust your budget to enjoy the season. Your worth is not based upon your bank account. Your value as a person; parent, friend, spouse or relative is not based on what you gave or what you received. Life is more than gifts or one day, life is beyond the holidays.
If you are not home or you aren’t able to get home for the holiday, find a way to stay connected with your family and friends. Use the technology to keep in touch. Reach out to family, friends and loved ones to stay connected to your sources of tradition, belonging, engagement and emotional well-being. If you don’t have anyone, don’t be afraid to venture into a new social circle or network. Be open to the possibilities of something different and the potential for new experiences.
If you are feeling melancholy or sad over the loss of a loved one or a breakup, remember you can control your thoughts and feelings. While images and feeling can and often do well up inside and pop out, you can get quiet and deliberately and consciously redirect your thoughts to something more pleasant, more tranquil and serene. Think of the fun times, the joy and happiness of past holidays, remember your loved ones fondly and think of them as being well and whole like they were during the best of times.
Sharing your feelings with a close friend, family members, a pastor, Imam or counselor may help lift y our spirits and help you refocus. Exercising may help and the new physical regimen will help you sleep better. Get up and go out, do something beyond yourself, volunteer, do something beneficial for others to take your mind off your troubles. Try something new, go somewhere different you’ll be surprised to see how many people are out and about in hotels, resort areas and the restaurants that are open.
If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed because the dinner is at your place, ask for help. Ask friends or relatives to bring a side dish, a dessert or libations to help lessen the cost and lighten the work load. Get your rest and plan a schedule so you are not running around helter-skelter buying food, presents, cooking and baking at the last minuet.
Family dinners can be stressful for numerous reasons. Often we revert back to whatever role we played in the family when we were younger. Our relatives still want to see us the way we were back in the day and not as the people we are now. You may have to gently and lovingly remind them you are grown now.
If there has been tension, discord and disagreement decide to be the one who brings the peaceful spirit, be forgiving, be the mature one, and take the high road for the sake of having a less stressful event. Don’t allow politics, religious differences or current events to dictate the tone and mood of your gathering. Family ties and friendships are the common bond that unites you; let this be the guiding light. Focus on being together put the cell phones away; this is a time for genuine interaction and fellowship with family and friends.
You can always say no, if you are not feeling well, your schedule is too demanding or your home needs too much work to prepare for a big family dinner. Don’t allow expectations and requests to stress you out. The same goes for your kids, godchildren and relatives, best case scenario if you exchange gifts, learn what they want early so you can save for it, shop and get their gifts early rather than last minute
Be mindful of your and your family members’ health. Don’t compromise your health regimen. Don’t overload on alcohol, sweets or foods you know you’re not supposed to eat or that aren’t good for you, your family and friends. Introduce some new healthy items, they make like them.
We are social beings, holidays are a time we can come together to rekindle family ties and strengthen our bonds of friendship. Family, togetherness and love are priority one, don’t forget that. Don’t allow shorter days, reluctance to drive at night or past hurts to deter you from enjoying this season. Make up your mind to have an enjoyable and safe holiday season.