Holidays are not happy, family times for everyone

Posted by Retired Teacher @retiredteacher, Nov 20, 2019

This time of year from Halloween through New Year’s is not a happy time for everyone. It is not for me and my husband because we have no family. All the adds and activities that show families around the table chatting and talking and enjoying all the special food and fellowship just make it worse. It’s hard to have a glorious time because we’ve never experienced the family tradition. I prepare the traditional food, but there is no real celebration. I just want everyone to know that this time of year is not always what it’s advertised to be. It also brings depression and hurt and a feeling of being left out. However, it’s always been this way for my husband and me, so we are used to it. We don’t buy each other gifts, but choose a needy child and buy for that child. We prepare donations for the food banks in our area and try to do what we can to help those who have family but little else. I know there are other people like us, soI just wanted to remind others that not everyone has family to celebrate with. Rather than the jolly, we celebrate the spiritual aspect and welcome a new year.


Hi All:

I just saw this article in a Mayo Clinic email newsletter and thought you all might find it helpful. It's titled, "Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping." Here is the article.

The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress and depression. And it's no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.

But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression/ When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

Donate to a charity in someone's name.; Give homemade gifts.; Start a family gift exchange.; Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try these suggestions: Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.; Get plenty of sleep.
Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Some options may include: Taking a walk at night and stargazing. Listening to soothing music. Getting a massage. Reading a book.

Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

Take control of the holidays. Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

As my mom died just a couple of days ago, on the afternoon of Thanksgiving, I'm thinking of how I can approach the upcoming holidays with optimism and energy. My take-aways from this article are to "acknowledge my feelings" and allow myself to feel grief and loss and not try to "force myself to feel happy."

After reading this, what are your "take-aways?" What can you do to make the holidays less stressful?

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@hopeful33250 Hi Teresa I just read this article and it was very thought provoking . I just found a good friend here we are both alone at the holidays so what we did was go out to eat then take in a movie on Christmas then I had a New Years day dinner that helped me from reaching the blues those day . I plan on repeating this in the future . Thanks for the article

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