Teresa Greenhill, at Mental Health For Seniors, has asked me to post a special message, “Handling the Holidays,” on my blog for our Senior Community. Its aim is to offer warmth, comfort and guidance during this special, but sometimes challenging, season. 

Handling the Holidays

There is a divine population of individuals who adore the first signs of holiday jingles played across the radio waves, no matter how early they come. Those people that find beautiful contentment and comforting warmth with all that the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year season bring together. The snow, the friends, the gifts and everything else all mean delightful joy to these individuals.


However, the holiday season is not this way for everyone. For many, enormous amounts of stressors become apparent once October ends and November begins. The need to match the expectations, emotions, and attitudes around you can have a crippling effect during this time. Buying gifts, dealing with traffic, making time for extended family.

Facing the truth, the holiday season provides heavy anxiety for many people. It is this season that tests people who are isolated, have recently lost a relationship (familial or romantic), or those struggling with addiction. For all those people who fall into that category, it can be graceful to put things into perspective. Stress does not have to be part of this holiday season.

Family Stress

Having a group of new figures inhabiting the household is a positive thing that the holidays bring. However, new figures also bring forth awkward situations and long talks usually explaining yourself and your current life. Having many people over at one time can be overwhelming and stressful. Also, having to consider an elongated schedule of things to do involving buying and giving gifts tends to cause angst.

Depending upon how you deal with stress, extra family time can help or harm you. An important question to ask yourself during these times is “how is this time of year different from any other?”

Continue any routine that keeps you occupied and makes you happy. Experts have suggested that lots of rest and some mediation are important during the holidays. Lack of sleep is a major factor in the buildup of many of the emotions that cause depression and emotional break downs. Put yourself and your well-being first during this time and you will be better equipped to be better for others.

Position Yourself Well

Of course, nobody knows yourself more than you do. However, that does not mean you should go about things alone at all. Let others in on the things that may tip you in the wrong way. Getting the support of others keeps you involved socially and involved with the action, and it distances you from your hindrances. Also try these other helpful ideas.

  1. Slow Down. Getting worn out is the quickest way to dive right into emotional turmoil. Take the time to stop, reflect, and enjoy the happenings around you. Meditation is wonderful in this aspect.
  2. Don’t Sweat Menial Things. Understand that not everything will go right (nothing ever does). Put matters into perspective and remind yourself how thankful you are for everything you already have.
  3. Utilize Those Around You. You are not alone. Talk to others. Always keep others in-tune with how you are feeling. It just may surprise you how many people feel the same.

On the other hand, some family members and friends can also be inhibitors to your happiness and wellbeing. Individuals such as these tend to cause relapse in those who may have suffered with addiction because they insert those scenarios upon them. Often using alcohol or drugs as a reward or asking why you aren’t partaking with the group, situations like these can be problematic. If you are struggling with addiction, remember these ideas.

  1. Rehearse your answer. Be creative and make an excuse not to partake. Comedy is a useful tool in this situation as it deflates any undesired tension. Ask any counselor or advocate to help you rehearse beforehand.
  2. Deflect any Topics on the Stressor. Talk about sports, movies, gaming, whatever helps you get their mind off the idea.
  3. Have an Escape Plan. Telling others about your problems can be an easy way to get out of situations with a suggesting individual. Often, your family and friend will be sympathetic to your cause. Make sure you are provided with an easy out from any hard conversations or worse, an out-of-hand party.

Click here for more information on how to stay focused on your recovery during the holidays.

Lisa Ryan, LPC
Lisa Ryan, LPC
Relationship Expert - Infidelity Specialist - Guest Speaker ~ Loves the big blue sea, homely dogs, the unvarnished truth, and making people feel better. As an Infidelity Specialist in CT since 2002, Lisa continues to retain fairness, an enormous empathy for all clients and a desire to forge a positive outcome, with a commitment that matches that of the clients themselves. She helps couples rebuild their relationships after the discovery of an extramarital affair, a secret relationship or a technology addiction that breaches trust. She guides her clients through a 5-pronged solution-driven plan, designed by her, which has a success rate near 95%. Clients attribute their achievement to Lisa’s non-judgmental approach and genuine understanding of the unique anguish experienced by both parties when trust has been broken.

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