The holidays are upon us again and while we all want to believe this special time of year is always wonderful, joyous and perfect, it is also a season that can be extremely stressful.
The reasons are many: high expectations, more parties, less sleep, more drinking, less exercise, overeating, over-spending, and too much family time with relatives you just don’t care for. Throw in a hectic travel schedule for a vacation and or family visits along with shorter days which can trigger SAD (Seasonal Affective disorder) and the holiday blues are not only real but in some can even led to a clinical depression.
Here’s a shrinks survival guide to the holidays:
• Manage expectations: Watch any movie, TV show or advertisement and the holidays are depicted as a perfect, joy filled time of year filled with family, giving and happiness. While that is partly true, the holidays are also the most stressful time of year. Understand going in that there are both positive and negative aspects associated with the season.
• Practice moderation: Parties, drinking, family time, and travel can be fun, but too much of a good thing is never healthy. Don’t overdo it. You don’t have to buy the biggest gifts, travel to see every relative and say yes to every event. Also when you do go to a party you don’t have to drink, overeat, or stay out late.
• Maintain a schedule: With everything going on at this time of year the first causalities are often your diet, exercise routine, and sleep. Maintain your schedule as much as possible even if it occasionally means saying no to other obligations.
• Allow for some alone time: It’s easy to forget about yourself when in the spirit of the season, but plan an occasional quiet day or night just for you or you and your partner to unwind and de-stress.
• Be aware of difficult relatives: We all have that one relative/in-law that seems to push our buttons, who can turn our bright mood on a dime to bleak. Limit time with this person and decide up front that no matter what they say, you won’t rise to the bait.
• Get outside: Sun exposure can combat SAD, even if it’s cloudy, getting outside during the day is still beneficial.
Finally, as I discussed in detail recently in a blog post recently, always remember what the holidays are really about: faith, hope, love and gratitude. The holidays are just like anything else in life. If you understand the good and the bad, throw in a little bit of planning and moderation and you will probably be fine, and be able to enjoy this special time of year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.
Dr. Dale Archer is a psychiatrist and frequent guest on FoxNews.com's "The Strategy Room." For more, visit his website: Dr.DaleArcher.com.