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  • Sayanti Bhattacharya MD

When the 'most wonderful time of the year' is hard

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

Though called the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, in reality the holidays can be a difficult time for many. Financial, emotional and family related stress is common around the holidays. Here are some ways to make them less stressful:

Rethink your expectations

Are you putting too much pressure on yourself to have the best Christmas/holiday? It is okay to not feel happy, joyful or thankful at all times, even during the holidays. Accept how you feel instead of trying to feel the way you ‘should’.

Think about what you value

Is there something about this time of the year that is meaningful to you? Spending time with loved ones, giving gifts, enjoying good food, relaxing, having time off work, and/or traveling are some things people value. If not, that is okay. The holiday season does not have to be special unless you choose to make it so.

Redefine your goals

Having reasonable goals sets you up for success. Start with what is important to you. If its good food, can it be ordered instead of being home cooked? If gifts are important, do they have to be expensive to be meaningful? If the holidays at home are hard for you, consider traveling. Limit the time you spend in stressful situations.

Set an intention for yourself

Focus on your priorities. Do you want to do things by yourself? Or would you rather spend time with loved ones, family or friends? Would you rather travel or stay home? You can choose how you spend the holidays.

Communicate clearly

Let your loved ones know what your intentions are. Set boundaries and be clear about your plans. If they know what to expect beforehand, they will not be disappointed in the moment.

Make time for what is important and valuable

Don’t let the things you value get lost in the chaos of the holidays. Unless you plan in advance, it’s easy to lose sight of what is actually important.

Let some things go

It is okay and sometimes necessary to not do everything. Do you find all the planning, the spending, extended time with family, the travel or the expectation of feeling happy/wonderful to be stressful? Let go of some things; say no when you need to. Keep things simple.

The holidays do not have to be perfect to be a happy time, and do not have to be happy/joyous to be a good time.

Have a healthy and peaceful holiday season.

Dr. Sayanti Bhattacharya, MD, MS.

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