DR. CELESTE CATANIA-OPRIS, PH.D., LMFT
The holidays are quickly approaching. For some, the idea of the holiday season signifies family, laughter, presents, fun, and so much more. Still, as magical as this time can be, the holiday season comes with some strings attached.
There is an immense pressure for people to buy presents during the holidays. Years ago, a tradition somehow started encouraging individuals to buy or make each other gifts for the holidays to show that they are being thought of and loved. We can all admit that it feels good to know that others care about us. It is not about the monetary value of the gift, it is about the thought, so even a hand-made card can mean a lot.
If you are having a hard time financially around the holidays, then this can cause you excessive stress. Try to not turn on each other, like if your spouse goes and sneaks your son a new iPad. Look at the action and the meaning behind it. Make a plan and a budget, but just be aware that things may not always go as planned and that is okay too. You will make it through this, like the many times you did before.
It can be hard to be around certain family members during the holidays. There may be unnecessary drama, complaints, or food we feel obligated to eat every year. Perhaps you are frustrated that you are the one always throwing the holiday parties? Maybe your parents are divorced and you are wondering how it will go this year? Whatever the reason, the holidays can be a high-stress environment for some. This can lead to feeling anxious, uncomfortable, and even exhausted.
What to do
Setting some boundaries may be helpful. For instance, decide early on how long you would like to stay before heading home. Stick with individuals you feel more comfortable with, even sitting next to them during dinner. If needed, go take a breather. You could pretend to be doing something in the kitchen or say you are getting something out of the car. Whatever it is, take a moment for yourself if you need it, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed.
Remember, the holidays are not always a happy time for some people. Some miss their relatives who are no longer there to celebrate, leading to a change in their mood compared to previous years. Go there with an open mind. You may be surprised this year. You may start singing new holiday songs or playing new games. Join the fun. Create and offer new traditions as well, which appeal to you and your interests. Now take out the eggnog or your other favorite drinks and simply CELEBRATE. Celebrate life, the love you all share, and the many blessings which have come your way along the years.
It may take a few days to regroup after the holidays, but the hope is that we will cherish those memories. The awkward moments, the loud laughter, and the excessive food all make it worth it. Happy holidays to you and your family!
Celeste Catania-Opris, Ph.D., LMFT, offers therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families. www.TherapyForModernHousewives.com.