The stress of the holidays. It happens to most of us, and it can be especially hard for our elderly. When we understand why holiday stress is different from other kinds of stress, and what triggers it in the first place, we can make the changes, choices, and attitude adjustments needed for the best Christmas ever. We hope you enjoy working on these 10 creative mental exercises.
1. Lower your expectations. We can’t recreate the past. Our memories of Christmas past are just that – precious memories. Memories carry all the beauty of a time without the distraction of reality. No past Christmas season was ever perfect.
Exercise: One expectation I have today as the holidays approach is:
2. Acknowledge the source of your sadness. Give yourself permission to feel a sense of loss or sadness because of a divorce, death of a spouse or loved one, or separations brought on by miles or emotions.
Exercise: One thing I feel today as the holidays approach is:
3. If you are alone, stay busy! If you are isolated, by chance or by choice, invite others to get together. Decide to be proactive, not reactive. Don’t wait for an invitation; invite someone to come over, join a gym or a ministry group at your church.
Exercise: One friend or group I could get together with is:
4. Rethink your traditions. Traditions are often handed down from multiple generations, from earlier times when family lives were less busy. It may be time to adjust traditions that are too time-consuming.
Exercise: One tradition I may need to give up is:
5. Reset your family goals. Reduce the amount of time you plan to spend with difficult family members. And don’t expect family problems to disappear just because it’s holiday season. Balance your own needs with your family’s needs. Let go of past conflicts, resentments, and decide to forgive.
Exercise: One positive family member or friend I will spend time with is:
6. Prepare for extra intensity. As the holiday approaches, take quiet times to be rejuvenated. Read a great book or watch your favorite movie. Eliminate stressful or unnecessary activities and chores.
Exercise: One activity I can abandon this month is:
7. Nurture yourself. Do something really special just for yourself. Spend more time in the shower or bath, do some stretching exercises to soothing music. Sit near a sunny window. Get a pedicure.
Exercise: One thing I will do for myself is:
8. Deal with loneliness or loss. Go to a place where you can find support and encouragement. Engage with others honestly. Give your time by volunteering or doing something simple for someone else.
Exercise: One activity I will do for [name] is:
9. Don’t overindulge. Being good to yourself does not mean eating, drinking or spending in excess. Do everything in moderation, get more exercise, take walks, eat wisely.
Exercise: One way I will exercise is to [fill the in the blank] for 10 minutes each day.
10. Remind yourself of the true meaning of the holidays. Peace of earth and to men of goodwill is a strong message. Spend some time thinking where you fit into this traditional verse.
Exercise: I will remind myself of the importance of [fill in the blank] this year.
From our family to yours, may you have a wonderful holiday season.