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Managing Holiday Stress


When expectations and a sense of obigation are present, feelings of stress usually arise.  When my stress gets too high, I generally begin to shut down.  Depression starts to take hold, I become highly  irritabile too easy, too often and I tend to want to retreat (to my bed).  Holidays usually brought on this scenario for me and I felt dread at the upcoming holiday gatherings.  Then, I learned I could choose to “not”  attend and tell friends and family that I was simply not up to it.

Several years in a row when my coping skills were no match for my depression and anxiety, I stayed home.  I avoided many  Thanksgivings’, Christmas’, whatever “it” was.  When I stayed home, in my safe place I would experience mixed emotions:  1)  I would feel happy that I was not under so much stress and 2) recognized I had made a choice and that choice often left me feeling a little sorry for myself, that I was at home all alone.   I know that sounds a little crazy, like both sides of a coin. But, it is what it is.

Now I take a slightly different approach yet, still effective in managing stress that tends to accompany my sense of obligation.  I tell myself that I can always LEAVE.   To show up and bear as much as I can until I am done, then say my goodbyes (even if it is before a meal, or whatever).  Knowing I have this OUT, seems to remove a lot pressure.  There are times that I leave and other times when I stay.  I monitor how I am feeling during the event and if I notice I am feeling upset, angry, hurt, ignored, worried, etc. I can take an action to try to change it and if that doesn’t work, I can leave and go where I am comfortable (for me, this is home).

As I’ve grown older I realize that the Time spent with loved ones’ is more important than almost anything.  I spend time, when I feel I am able to.  Now I know they wont always be there to go and visit.

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5 Comments

  1. very wisely said 🙂 x

    Reply
  2. I call this The Environmental Cure and I’ve used it for years. When I can’t handle a situation anymore I just leave it and put my body somewhere else for awhile. It usually works wonders. But seeing family is important too. I just spent a 3 weeks tour seeing mine and it was wonderful. I’m so glad I did it and also glad it’s done now. I’ll wait awhile to do it again, but not too long. Time flies…. Thanks for liking my post.
    Steve

    Reply
  3. Good on you! I’ve been the same in the past, many ‘sorry for myself’ Christmases but now I try to watch my thoughts mindfully. I’m actually going to be alone for most of Christmas this year for various but going away for the following few days to somewhere a bit on the stressful side. I’m hoping to stay with whatever comes up and know that I’m in control. It does feel better to have an escape plan in place.

    Reply

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