Ho! Ho! Ho! Holiday Magic or Jingle Hell — How To Survive the Holiday Season

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: May 26, 2010

By Cynthia Niles

The delicious smell of hot apple cider, fresh fir trees, cookies and cakes baking in the oven. The wonderful colors that the holiday brings with the backdrop of snow glistening in the cool, brisk air. Looking forward to family gatherings and joyful memories of the holiday season. The reindeer frolicking in the snow, the laughter of children anticipating Santa Claus or the presents of Hanukkah. As the holiday approaches, one could only hope that this holiday season is so wonderful. As a wife, a mother of two, a daughter, and a sister I know that this wonderful holiday optimism may not be reality. Unfortunately, for many, the holiday season can cause many stressors leading to what I like to call the winter blues. The reality, for me, is having to attend too many holiday parties in which I overeat, causing me to gain those extra unwanted pounds. The days are over where my children are satisfied with one simple gift. If it doesn’t whistle, have leopard on it, or a heavy price tag, it isn’t cool. Today I need to fight for a parking spot at the shopping mall and wait in endless lines to purchase gifts for all of my loved ones. Then I worry about the credit card bill that awaits me at the end of the month, because, however am I going to pay for all of the purchases? Did you know that nowadays it costs a trip to the mall, ten dollars, and an hour wait in line for my child to sit in Santa’s lap? It’s no wonder this time of year can lead to bouts of depression as one ponders all the things one didn’t accomplish in the past year. Another year passed and goals not achieved. Others may get depressed remembering loved ones gone and some people are truly alone. Don’t get me wrong this is a wonderful time of year in which we can all learn a few things. The winter blues do not have to get you down and the pressures of the holidays can be manageable. The following suggestions may be helpful to get through this holiday season.

Be Good to Yourself

Keep the holiday simple and be good to yourself. Many people find themselves overwhelmed during the holidays because schedules go out the window. It is extremely important to pace one self and not overdo it. Try to maintain a schedule for yourself by prioritizing which holiday events to attend. If you are planning the holiday event, keep it simple, for example make one or two types of cookies instead of twelve. If you are attending parties, try not to overindulge in fatty foods and sugars as these items have been associated with an increase in depression. Try to keep your exercise routine and if possible spend plenty of times outdoors. Some experts believe that seasonal affect disorder, which is caused by lack of sunlight causing the reduction of the amount of endorphins distributed to the brain, can contribute to the winter blues. If you are all alone this holiday season, try to reach out to someone else in need. There are many hospitals, food pantries, and local organizations looking for people like you to volunteer your time. In addition, it may make you feel better to positively influence or help someone else during this season.

Be Good to Your Pocketbook

Shopping can be very stressful. Make lists of the people you need to purchase for, set a budget, and stick to it. Keep your costs down as we all need to remember that in this season of giving it could cause financial hardships for some. Many people agree it is the thought or gesture of kindness that really matters and not the amount of money one spends on gifts. Shopping through catalogs or online could also be helpful to avoid the chaos of shopping malls. If you do plan to spend the day shopping bring a healthy lunch or dinner as we all know the quick fast food isn’t going to benefit your well being.

Be Realistic

During the holiday season, many people find themselves out of their normal life routines. They may make unrealistic goals for themselves thus setting themselves up for failure. One may look at the overall state of their life over the past year and become depressed at all that was not accomplished. Be real. Start with a simple plan and stick to it. Begin with small steps in order to obtain your larger goals. A little accomplishment may go a long way by giving you the ambition to go even farther.

Be Kind

Some people, such as the elderly, widowers, divorcees and military personnel, feel a real sense of loss during this time period as they get lost in the shuffle. They are now guests at events in which they used to host. They miss the loved ones that may not be around now and depression may be present due to this. If you are this person, remind yourself that it is normal to feel sadness and it is okay to cry. Try to remember your loved ones and the special memories you may hold. Share these memories with others if possible. If you are the younger generation, try to be sensitive to these people during this time and try to include them by making new memories with them. Make them feel sincerely needed and welcome.

In closing, I am going to try to follow my own advice as I enjoy the delicious smell of hot apple cider, fresh fir trees, cookies and cakes baking in the oven. The wonderful colors that the holiday brings with the backdrop of snow glistening in the cool, brisk air. Looking forward to family gatherings and joyful memories of the holiday season. The reindeer frolicking in the snow, the laughter of children anticipating Santa Claus or the presents of Hanukkah. So as I continue on to 2006 I need to keep all this in mind. I need to be good to myself, be good to my pocketbook, be realistic, and be kind. Have a happy, healthy holiday and a wonderful new year.

Cynthia Niles is the daughter of Karen Giblin and resides in Charleston, RI with her husband and two children.

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