The First Week of December

For most of us, the first week of December, is the first week of the Christian holiday of Christmas. During the month of December in Colorado you will see snow covering the ground and be in awe of the beauty of snow packed mountain peaks. The average snow in Denver in December is 8.5 inches and December is the coldest month of the year in Colorado. A great month for skiers.

MP900431277Many people are preparing their homes for Christmas. Decorations and holly will be placed in windows and on doors while lighted Christmas trees will sparkle and dance. Children are not shy in asking for holiday gifts as they dream of Rudolph, Santa and the joy of Christmas morning. Young or old everyone is entitled to the anticipation and wonder and of Christmas morning with pretty presents under the tree and all the excitement the holiday brings.

The hustle and bustle of Christmas has begun! Some who have not made Christmas travel plans will search the web hoping for low fares. Christmas is in the air. People seem to be more gracious and giving during this time of the year than any other. Why? Perhaps this is because the many activities that surround Christmas give happiness, joy and purpose to people.

Sadly, a segment of the population does not enjoy the holidays. For those who have not had the memories of childhood joys, or people that experience sadness or depression during the holiday season, Christmas can be daunting. There are many triggers that cause feelings of stress and unhappiness during this season. Some have lost a loved one during this year and are grieving. Grieving during any time is difficult, but loss during the holiday is especially poignant. Many people are single and live alone and do not have a good support system around them. Seeing others interact with their families can be sad and painful for them. Estrangement and divorce is another loss that can cause inner conflict and sadness. With the decreased sunshine and the gloomy weather seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is yet another reason that people have a difficult time enjoying the holiday season.

The Mayo Clinic lists 3 triggers for the holiday blues or holiday depression: relationships, finances, and holiday demands. Mental Health America points out that there are many people who experience post-holiday let down or post-holiday blues after the first of January. If you know someone who is going through a difficult time during the holidays, encourage them to ask for help.

"It's a Wonderful Life"If you are feeling sad or depressed this holiday season realize that your symptoms are very similar to clinical depression and if your symptoms continue to interfere with the quality of your life see a professional. If you feel the holiday blues interfering with your peace of mind and your joy perhaps you can use this first week of December to bring the joy of the season to someone else. Volunteer at a nursing home or a hospital or simply enjoy a Christmas movie classic such as “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Create new memories by going to see Christmas light displays or hang a few of your own. Surprise a friend and take her/him to dinner. Choose something you have an interest in and you will find new meaning and enjoy the experience.

Let me know what you think or ask me a question by emailing me at squiggylpc@hotmail.com. Until next time, light and blessings to you.

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A Stress Free Thanksgiving

As we prepare for The Thanksgiving holiday 2013, turkeys are being bought, with all the holiday fixings of past traditions. You can be sure Mom’s cornbread dressing will be on our plates.  A stress free Thanksgiving?   Probably not, as most of us want to make the best of the holiday with family and friends.  What would a stress free holiday look like?  Perhaps a trip to Las Vegas or the Bahamas.  No preparing the turkey ahead of time or deciding whether you will have pumpkin or pecan pie.  You wouldn’t be wondering which relative would be late for dinner or not show up. Stress free, unless your flight was delayed!

"The First Thanksgiving" (1915), by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

“The First Thanksgiving” (1915),
by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris

The first Thanksgiving in 1612 lasted 3 days. There had to be plenty of food for the 53 pilgrims and 90 Indians.  They lived off the land and ocean and did not have the food industry to support them. Instead of wild turkey, they ate duck or goose.  In the New England colony they ate seafood such as clams, mussels and lobster. They ate plenty of vegetables provided by crops and gardens.  The forest provided chestnuts and walnuts. Instead of pumpkin pie they enjoyed boiled pumpkin.  Not a bad meal to feast on and to give thanks for. One of my earliest memories is my mother talking about her mother’s recipe for dressing that included apples, chestnuts, and walnuts.

As the Thanksgiving holiday is a prelude to the holiday season our stress level is on the rise and is defined differently than other times during the year. Studies range from 70 to 80 percent people feeling the stress of the holiday season.

Women are most likely to report feeling stress during the holiday season because they are multi-tasking.  Preparing the house for the holidays, preparing for meals and their everyday stress can lead to disaster.  Many women will fall into bad habits such as overeating, and indulging in too much alcohol. Increased stress often leads to a decreased immune system and by the time the holidays are over women are often exhausted.

decorated Christmas treeAs the Christmas season is around the corner work stress will increase as many families are trying to work overtime to compete with the commercialism of holiday giving.  According to Ronald Nathan, PHD, clinical professor at Albany Medical College in New York a key culprit is our own memories.  He states “When we think about the holidays, we dwell on the past and what went wrong, or we romanticize it and make it impossible to recreate.” ( Web MD, the magazine).  He counsels people to carefully examine their thoughts and expectations and not drive themselves crazy finding “the perfect gift” or planning “the perfect party.”

Here are some tips to reduce your stress during the holidays:

  • Set your priorities: Too much of anything can create stress. Prioritize your activities and do the things you enjoy.
  • Create your holiday:  If your schedules permit, plan as much as you can, from decorating to your holiday meal.
  • Live in the here and now: Don’t worry about the future or fuss about the past.
  • Stay happy and socialized:  Don’t isolate, get together with family and friends or volunteer during the holidays.

Stress is the killer of smiles somewhere in between lies balance.

Let me know what you think or ask me a question by emailing me at squiggylpc@hotmail.com.   Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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