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Hints for Handling the Holidays (part 1)

Holidays can be a stressful time for any number of reasons. We may have (unrealistically) high expectations for a "perfect" celebration. The loss of a loved one, a job or a significant relationship may leave us feeling down, not really wanting to celebrate at all. Lack of resources, loneliness or clinical depression may also interfere with our enjoyment of the season. Here are some suggestions and resources for surviving and finding joy in the holiday season.

Managing Holiday Stress

  • Be realistic about your time, resources and expectations

  • If you have children, help them learn to be realistic too

  • Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks (and have fun working together)

  • Plan ahead. Prioritize your time. Know your spending limit and honor it

  • Remember, as someone has said, the holiday is about presence, not presents

  • Enjoy the present moment and seek out the holiday activities that are free (seeing the lights, making cards, watching holiday movies or specials, etc.)

  • Try something new!

  • Spend time with supportive and caring people - even if its on the phone or computer

  • Schedule some "down time" for rest and reflection

  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol (a depressant)

  • Eat healthy and get plenty of sleep and exercise

  • A sense of humor helps

  • Seek professional help if you need it

Grief and the Holidays

Talk about your grief with those you trust. Take good care of yourself. Recognize that the holidays won't be the same. Be careful not to isolate yourself completely from friends and family. "Cancel" the holidays and do something different for yourself if you need to (take a trip or go to a friend's home, away from painful associations in your own house). Create new traditions. Get involved in service to others. Give yourself permission to avoid festivities if you need to or to leave early. Allow yourself to feel what you feel and to grieve as you need to. Avoid additional stress. Know that, with time, you will heal, and it will get easier. (,,,

Things To Do When You're Feeling Blue

*Hug your cat or dog *Read *Take a walk *Light some candles *Visit some indoor gardens to see beauty in the winter *Make something *Watch a holiday favorite *Take a hot bath *Make a cup of cider or spiced tea *Take a book to the local coffee shop and sit and relax *Send cards to friends *Listen to music *Take a few minutes to sit still and listen *Make a lunch date with someone you enjoy *Get a message *Buy yourself some flowers or a houseplant *Go to a museum *Watch the sun rise *Sing or dance in the privacy of your own home *Do something nice and unexpected for someone else *Watch the sun set *Give thanks

Dr. Anita L. Hauenstein is a licensed psychologist, ordained minister and energy worker. In a private practice setting, Dr. Hauenstein blends her skills and experience to assist clients with transitions through all kinds of life circumstances - grief and loss, relationship issues, career changes and soul questions or crises, to name a few. More about Anita can be found at

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