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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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