Holiday Tips from Kitty Dooling, M.Ed., L.P.C.

The holidays can be a stressful time of year. For many people, there are special meals to cook, parties to attend and presents to purchase. This is in addition to one’s everyday responsibilities. But for others, the holidays can be a reminder of what they no longer have to do or get to do. What can a family do, when changes in health, transitions in living arrangements, or family losses impact the experience of the holiday season? Here are some tips that may be useful:

1  Focus on good communication with family. Be open and honest with each other about how you are feeling. Sit down and talk about how you see the holidays this year.

2  Don’t have high expectations that are unattainable or unrealistic. Hoping for things to be as they once were may only set yourself up for disappointment. Also, be open to doing things differently. The important thing is being with people you love.

3  Know that there is no right way or wrong way to handle the holidays.

4  Be careful of “shoulds.” While you may feel that you should attend the usual events or activities be-cause you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, re-member that you have the right to make new choices and changes each year.

5  Set limitations – don’t be so hard on yourself! Things have changed. You don’t live in the same house or your parents don’t live in your childhood home anymore. You may be adjusting to a new place or visiting your parents in their new place. Do what you can and give yourself a break if it doesn’t all get done.

6  Consider adjusting traditions. Instead of going over to mom’s house to bake cookies, you might want to invite her to your house to do that. Or dinner needs to happen at your sister’s house instead of at Dad’s. You might want to even consider going out instead of having that added stress of cooking. New traditions are sometimes fun!

7  Let others help with things, too. If you have sib-lings, it’s good to discuss together who is going to do what during the holidays. One person does not have to do everything. Remember, though, not everyone does things the same way. Be open to others’ interpretations. It’s nice just to have others helping.

8  And remember, what you choose to do the first year, doesn’t have be done the next. Change is difficult but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.