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  • Writer's pictureJulie Love

Holiday Stress

From the Archive: December 2016

Contrary to popular opinion, December is not the month with the highest suicide rate (it’s May, actually).

So, why then do we always think suicide peaks during the Holidays? My guess is because we all recognize that the Holiday Season is hard. It’s stressful. We all feel a little depressed. And what’s worse, we think the sadness we feel is wrong. Come on, it’s the holidays! Time to celebrate! The pressure to deny that we feel stress becomes yet another stress.

So this year, let’s try to be a little kinder, starting with ourselves.

Recognize that stress is real, and is exhausting. Stop telling yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t be stressed out by people and events that you love. You can. You are. Stress is simply the emotional energy it takes to do something. It’s like the physical energy it takes to carry something – you’re allowed to get tired, even if you really love the heavy thing you are carrying! Give yourself permission to rest, to put the burden down and take a break. You don’t have to get everything done on time, or at all.

Once we’re easier on ourselves, we’ll be better able to notice the distress in those around us, especially the kids for whom the holidays can be an emotional minefield – whether due to divorced parents, or not celebrating the same holiday as those around them, or not being able to afford feasts and gifts, or just living in a world filled with incredibly stressed out adults all around them. Be an island of soothing calm, set the example.

Stop rushing around trying to create the perfect grand life event. Slow down, and notice the tiny joys that flit through life every day. A twinkling tree. A yummy latke. A glowing candle. We all want to have an ideal holiday experience. Take a breath and realize that you won’t – because no one does. Once you stop striving for elation, you might find contentment is deeply satisfying.

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