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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Coping With Stress During the Holidays

Often, along with the joy of the holiday season also comes stress.

Coping With Stress During the Holidays

It's not surprising, given all the demands of holiday time, that people often feel emotionally overwhelmed at this time of year.

Shopping, entertaining, and attending holiday parties can take an emotional toll. But with some foresight and planning, you can learn to manage the stress of the holidays and actually enjoy this time of year.

Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays
Knowing that the holiday season can be a stressful and emotional time and taking some preventive steps can help you from getting overwhelmed.

If you've had losses, like a death of a loved one, a breakup or loved ones are far away, it's normal to feel sad. Throughout the holiday season we're given explicit and implicit messages that we "should" be happy.

Coping With Stress During the Holidays
So, if we're having a difficult time, we can feel out of step with the rest of the world at this time. It might seem that everyone else is enjoying the holidays and we're stuck in a funk. But it's okay to feel your feelings, whatever they are, whether this means crying or expressing your feelings to a friend or loved one.

Coping With Stress During the Holidays: Taking Care of Yourself 

A Time for Gratitude
If you're alone during the holiday season, you can have a sense of community at a religious or community gathering.

If you're not religious or spiritual, you can volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, hospital or nursing home. Often, when we volunteer to help those less fortunate than ourselves, we not only help others--we also feel a sense of gratitude for what we do have in our lives, even if we're having a difficult time.

If you're fortunate enough to have good friends and family around, remember that the holidays don't have to be perfect.

When we have good memories of the holidays from childhood, sometimes our current experiences can feel flat as compared to those earlier times.

But we must acknowledge that things change. Rather than holding onto unrealistic expectations for the holidays, appreciate the people who are in your life now. Let go of unreasonable expectations of yourself and others. This will go a long way to helping prevent disappointments or misunderstandings.

When it comes to spending for the holidays, many people are scaling back what they would normally spend. If you budget ahead of time and stick to your budget, you'll avoid the stress of big credit card bills after the holidays.

Time well spent with loved ones or a homemade gift is so much more meaningful than exceeding your budget with an expensive gift.

Planning your time well can also help alleviate stress during the holidays. Once again, be realistic about what you can do. It's okay to tactfully say "no" to others when you know you'll be overextending yourself beyond what you can do.

Know Your Limits
It's also important to take breathers during the holiday season. Rather than pushing yourself beyond your physical or emotional limits, take breaks during the day.

A few minutes of mindfulness meditation or just closing your eyes and breathing can make the difference between your getting through the holidays feeling emotionally and physically in tact and feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist. I provide psychotherapy, EMDR, clinical hypnosis, and Somatic Experiencing therapy services in my private practice in Manhattan. I work with individuals and adults.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me: