It's that Time of Year Again - Are You Ready to be Home for the Holidays?
My practice gets busier at this time of year because the holidays can cause depression and increase stress especially if there are unresolved issues from the past. I specialize in working with women and many of us have grown up in dysfunctional or high stress homes where the holidays are wrought with pitfalls and broken dreams. Our brain is like a computer in that it keeps track of every anniversary, death, birthday, and holiday, particularly if there was stress or pain involved. We don’t always remember these things consciously, they sneak up on us.
As women, we feel that our job is to make the holidays special for others because we should. We aren't aware that our subconscious is running the show based on all the shoulds and shouldn’ts we learned growing up. We assume everyone has the same set of standards and can’t understand when others don’t do what we think they should. As a result, we take things personally and get defensive. We expect the holidays to be a magical time. Invariably, we get disappointed and upset when reality doesn't match up with our expectations.
So, what do we do to try to feel better? We tend to eat junk foods rich in sugar which can trigger health issues resulting in depression, anxiety and the cravings for more. Or we may try to numb the pain with alcohol or drugs. Most women don’t seek help until all other alternatives are exhausted and they are left feeling empty and alone.
The first step to feeling better is acknowledging that there is a problem and asking for help. It’s helpful to have guidelines for self-care during the holidays. Loneliness and boredom increase at this time of year. It’s important not to isolate yourself. You can create the holiday of your dreams; you just may need a little help along the way to get there.
Holiday Self-Care Suggestions:
• Start a daily gratitude list (even if you don’t want to)
• Develop healthy non-judgmental support systems
• Create new meaningful holiday rituals
• Do something physical: walk, yoga, dance- any movement-it helps to get your mind off things
• Volunteer to help others
• For those in a 12 Step recovery program, go to more meetings
• Humor: laughter is a great stress reliever. Watch comedies.
• Detachment: cultivate this tool. Suspend judgment of yourself and others.
• Prayer and meditation-studies show the power of prayer whether or not you are religious or spiritual, really helps.
• Nutritional support-find a nutritionist to help – what we eat effects how we feel.
I wish you happy and healthy holidays! Call for current group offerings.
Susan P. Kimball, LCSW, recently relocated to Waynesville as a Psychotherapist in Private Practice. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Gestalt Therapist. She has been in practice for over 24 years. She offers groups and individual sessions.
For more information please call 828-226-7366 or go to SusanKimball.net.