The holidays bring up a lot of emotions. We can’t avoid feelings such as depression, anxiety, or stress. The expectations from family, friends, co-workers, and ourselves are often overwhelming. Throughout the holiday season, we give ourselves excuses to relax or put aside our healthy habits in favor of unhealthy habits.
The struggle to remain sober or substance-free increases as we interact with familiar faces in familiar places. Parties and gatherings become temptations. We feel we “deserve” to drink or use substances to decrease our feelings of depression, anxiety, or stress. The urge to let down our guard and be a part of the crowd also exists. Negative habits become second-nature if we allow them to control our behavior.
Staying on track during the holidays takes commitment and support. Often, we have either finished treatment, never started treatment, or let our treatment lapse. Therapy is essential to our health and well-being. Aftercare gives us support during a season filled with emotion and temptation.
The holidays are welcomed by many because they symbolize happy feelings. People look forward to family and friends gathering together to celebrate. Media and society set unrealistic expectations for the holiday season. Before Halloween, we see the Christmas decorations on shelves. Conclusion: there is pressure to create mass marketing to buy gifts, spend time with everyone, and have a perfect house, table, or party. We can’t expect ourselves to achieve the standards the media, marketing outlets, and society set for the holidays. People are flawed, we have our temptations, breakdowns, and despite our imperfections, we have people who love us unconditionally.
We place expectations on ourselves, such as:
- Being happy. When we force ourselves to be happy, we exhaust ourselves. Family and friends understand the emotions associated with the holidays. Spend some time with those close to you and discuss how you feel about the parties and traditions.
- Expecting perfection. No matter what we do, we can’t control everything. We need to acknowledge we are doing the best we can. No one will remember if the table isn’t set correctly or the food served at an exact time. Expecting perfection compounds feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Enjoying our time with everyone. Our family and friends mean well, but there are times when we need a break. Some family members trigger negative emotions.
Life is stressful enough before we add unrealistic holiday expectations. Relax, focus on realistic goals, and maintain healthy habits.
Healthy habits begin when we recognize the need for change. A positive way to accomplish the desired change is to start therapy before encountering difficulty in our lives. Reaching out to a therapist commits us to improve our lifestyle of facing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or stress.
Therapy provides a healthy outlet for our emotions. We learn how to set plans in advance, create safe spaces, avoid unrealistic goals, and not fall back on negative behaviors. For example, to alleviate depression, anxiety, or stress, we seek alcohol or substances to numb our feelings. Our therapist will work with us to set practical coping mechanisms in place. Instead of falling back on negative behaviors, we will have the tools to reinforce positive behaviors. A few causes of negative emotions are:
- The stress of buying presents. Racking up credit card debt or overspending won’t bring us joy. The feelings of guilt, depression, stress, and anxiety will increase when we realize we can’t pay our bills. Don’t buy gifts you can’t afford to give.
- Create coupon books with fun, free activities.
- Offer to help a friend or family member with a task.
- Be creative. We can draw, write poems, stories, cook, or teach a loved one new skills.
- Spend time with loved ones. Sometimes the best present is our time.
Therapy appointments are an oasis. Our daily routine is all-consuming, often leading us to neglect our mental well-being. We need to find time for ourselves. Scheduling and going to therapy appointments can seem self-centered. When we focus on improving ourselves or center our well-being, we open ourselves up to self-love. Without a self-centered focus, we can’t connect to our mind, body, or spirit healthily. Our connection to our inner self provides the support we need to weather the holidays. Beginning therapy before the holidays creates a strong foundation for healthy habits.
When the holiday season starts, we can forget to schedule appointments or delay an appointment because of our busy calendar. An active holiday schedule doesn’t need to interfere with continued therapy sessions. If we can’t find the time to go to our therapist’s office, ask if they can come to our home. In-home therapy sessions maintain our therapy progress, but in-home therapy allows our therapist to see our family’s dynamics. Personalized therapy sessions based on family dynamics supports our well-being.
We experience pressure during the holiday season due to unrealistic expectations. The media, marketing, social interactions, and pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations can trigger unhealthy emotions. We seek ways to escape the pressure or the overwhelming feelings of depression, anxiety, or stress. Some people rely on alcohol or substances to numb their feelings. Alcohol or substances can numb depression, anxiety, or stress, but they will also increase those feelings. Excessive spending, alcohol, or substance use leads us down the trail of negative emotions. When we begin therapy before the holiday season begins, we establish a positive foundation and healthy habits. Even if the holidays are in full swing, it’s not too late to start therapy. Self-care is about centering on our needs, not the expectation of other people. Achieve Concierge offers individuals both with in-office and in-home treatment. We focus on creating a personalized treatment plan. For more information, call us at (619) 393-5871.