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Post Holiday Blues

Little girl and her dog looking out the window.Okay, it’s over. Done for another year.  The HOLIDAYS. The time of the year when we are “supposed” to be having fun and enjoying our friends and families, but in fact we may be running ragged trying to live up to some expectation set by others. The friends or cousins, media, or ourselves, who make the holidays a competitive sport. We try to prepare a holiday feast, decorate the house, and buy that special thing that our loved ones cannot live without. Or so they thought. We put on a smile and greet those we see with a façade of good cheer.  And now that it’s over it feels hollow, and we wonder why.

The hollow, empty feeling that comes when the momentum of the season subsides comes in part because the energy we expended during the pre-holiday preparation was somewhat misdirected.  I say misdirected to mean all of the times we forced ourselves to meet an unrealistic demand or expectation of the holiday season that held no deep down significance for us or our loved ones personally.  This is particularly true if in trying to doing so we become weary and exhausted.  We forget those little things that truly make ourselves and our families happy, and get lost in trying to provide a spectacular event, ready for prime time.

There is another way to approach the holidays.  Forget the media blitz on what you “should” be doing. Should is an unrealistic imperative that can never be met.  Put aside for now all of the “rules” set by your past generations of family who led different lives and had endless hours to prepare.  Take a moment with your loved ones and decide what traditions are important to you now. Perhaps you can choose to do one or two things this year, and another family custom next year.  Decide what you can realistically do now, with the complex work and family lives we have in this century. Then figure out who will help you in these preparations, and delegate – do not try to do it all alone. You cannot realistically work, take care of your spouse and children, manage your depression, bake homemade cookies and plan a big party and expect to do it all. Resist the pressure from parents or grandparents and choose instead to honor their memories and traditions in a modified, more relaxed way.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this time.  That is often the first thing that most people drop off their to-do lists.  Instead, it is better for you to keep it on top, as taking care of yourself will enable you to be more productive and enjoy the activities of the season.  Stick to the Basics of Mental Health. Eat well, three healthy balanced meals per day without skipping meals. Get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, if possible.  Exercise daily in some form, and try to get a good aerobic workout 5 days per week, even when you are busy.  Remember to include relaxation into your routine – meditation, stretch, yoga, etc.  Keep organized and have a daily routine and structure to your day, written down in an agenda book.  This will make life much less complicated. And don’t isolate yourself when you get busy with errands and holiday preparations – keep up with your friends, family and social contacts.

Stay well!

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