By Susan Menahem

Stockings are not the only things that will be filled this holiday season — so will most therapist’s waiting rooms. The truth is that many people have difficulties during the holidays. To beat the holiday blues, keep these seven things in mind:

TRADITIONS are wonderful, but they usually change as our lives do. Be open to creating new traditions, either for yourself or with other people. What makes traditions special is the meaning that we attribute to them. Even a new tradition can be special and meaningful if we decide that it is.

EXPECTATIONS around the holidays will only lead to trouble and hurt feelings. Rarely is an expectation grounded in reality, and having expectations does not leave room for circumstances to change. Lastly, expectations block us from being able to appreciate whatever does occur. Rather than having expectations, we need to allow our mind to become a blank mental canvas, open to whatever unfolds.

SELF PITY only creates more sadness. So your life may have taken a twist and a turn and it is not how you want it to be right now. Accept that you are in a transition and things won’t always be this way. Acknowledge what is working in your life (no matter how seemingly small), and be grateful for that. Look for ways to help others who may be in a worse position than you. Save the confetti for some other party — the pity party stops now.

SELF CARE and being kind to yourself is one of the most important things you can do. Show yourself that you are worth it and treat yourself in a special way. Self care also means limiting the amount of time you spend at a stressful gathering, or turning down an invitation altogether.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY around the holidays may seem difficult, but winding up in huge debt is even more difficult. Speak to friends and relatives in advance and set a limit on the amount of money you want to spend. Rather than spending money on gifts, decide that you will each spend a small amount — if any at all — on an evening out together. The gift of spending time is so much more meaningful. An evening of movies and popcorn can be more memorable than something you purchased at the store.

GRIEVE if there is something that causes you sadness and if that is what you feel you need to do. It’s not about showing up for other people. Give yourself permission to opt out of the holidays altogether if that is what you need.

MAKE A PLAN for yourself if you don’t have any plans with others. Treat yourself to a good meal or prepare your favorite foods. Take yourself out see holiday lights, see a show, or window shop. If you are spending time at home, get some good books or movies and give yourself the gift of relaxation.

This may not be the best holiday season you ever had, and that’s OK. It just doesn’t have to be the worst holiday season you ever had.



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