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Emotional Preparation for the Holiday Season

The holidays, no matter which, if any, you celebrate, can be either a great or terrible time of the year. The stress of parties, gifts, and other situations can get to anyone, even if you are prepared.

One of the biggest stressors of the holidays is being alone. Many people live far from their families or just don't get along well with them. Meeting up with family online using Skype or Facetime can help with some of this. If you don't get along well with your family or can't get to them, you can try some of these ideas:

Reach out. Most people who know someone that will be alone for the holidays will be happy to have another person at their table. Don't be afraid to ask close friends if you can join them, if they haven't asked already.

Alternative traditions. Friendsgiving has become a popular trend in the last decade- it's Thanksgiving, but with friends. This gives people a sense of belonging and a chance to have fun without the stress of family, if that is an issue.

Pamper yourself. This may be a good time for a "Staycation" and pampering yourself. This might include a trip to a spa, getting a massage, or anything else that helps relieve stress or any other negative feelings.

Help others. The holidays are full of opportunities to help others in your community. Some families gather then go out and do some sort of activity to help others- volunteering at a homeless or even pet shelter. This can bolster feelings of self-esteem and may become a new tradition for you.

Self-care. Remember to take care of yourself during this time. Reach out to others if you need it to vent, cry, etc. It's okay not to be happy 100% of the time during the holidays. You aren't alone.

Holidays can be rough for those grieving, especially if it is the first holiday season without a loved one. If you are going to a gathering with a family or friend who is grieving a loss, or if you are grieving yourself, these tips may help:

Take care of yourself.

Don't rush grief. There is no timetable on grief. Some days are better than others and holiday memories are hard. No matter where you are in your grief, it's okay to be sad during the holidays.

Share stories. This can help others feel okay sharing stories and that the memory of the deceased can live on.

Plan ahead. If you can, bring a holiday card with a nice note or even a small gift to let the family know you are thinking of them.

Holiday cheer can be canceled out by stress. That stress can be financial and/or emotional. Many of us feel the pressure of spending money on those we care about, leading to overspending and having to pay for this in the months after Christmas. Some stress over not having enough money to spend. Setting a present or price limit can help with this, and remember what the season is about- family and helping others.

The biggest lesson to be learned is that "no" is a valid and complete sentence any time of the year, especially during the holiday season. Taking care of yourself is the best way to go, no matter your situation.


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