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Thursday, November 29, 2012
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Let’s just paint a little picture. It is a picture we already know pretty well, but still every year this picture seems to take many of us by irritable surprise.
It is cold outside. The wind makes it worse, and the little ribbon that your kid tied on your car antenna to signify the first day of school (which seems like a thousand years ago now) flaps plaintively in the December wind, frayed by the salt and the rain and the snow and the sleet and the palpable frustration that batters it day in and day out because…
You are driving up one aisle and down another in a very busy parking lot. There have been a few near misses, cars pulling out of briefly empty spaces, but there’s always someone waiting for that space, getting there just a second before you. Your car is a cacophony of seasonal torture, the pop music on the radio mercilessly full of holiday cheer, your little one in the car seat working on an epic cold and the corresponding runny nose and cough that comes with it, your school aged kid mad that everyone on earth seems to be shopping on the same day and thus kicking the back of your seat, and your teen sitting with her legs on the dashboard while she sullenly tunes you out in favor of her iPod and it’s noise cancelling earphones.
‘Tis the season…
Study after study shows us, year in and year out, that the holidays are stressful – stressful for parents and for kids. (Like we need a study for this!) People are cranky, irritable, rushed and unruly. All of us, kids and adult alike, await the holidays with great anticipation and expectations – family, fun, sharing presents, doing things together. And these experiences are more than reinforced by the multitude of ads we all see on TV. Yet, for most of us, there are immeasurable stresses. Family conflict: Do I really want them to be over here that many days? How can I afford all these gifts when the bills are so high? Why did grandma have to get sick now? Do they really need all this extra time at work NOW? And for kids: how can I really get my parents to get me that iPod? Why can’t mom and dad (divorced last year) not speak or even decide on who stays when whom and when? I thought holidays were supposed to be fun. None of my friends are around!
People with psychiatric disorders often have an even harder time. Depression and substance abuse worsen, and suicide attempts appear to increase. Don’t misunderstand – the holidays are also wonderful, but we’d be fooling ourselves if we ignored the yearly misery that the holidays can potentially engender.
So, how do we navigate these frenzied days? How do stay on even keel?
It turns out that there are some things we can do manage the tough times, and though many of these things seem obvious, it is their very obviousness that often cause us to forget. Here are nine important points to remember.
The holidays are not necessarily difficult, but they can be enormously trying. Don’t let the bustle ruin the time with your family and friends. Slow it down. After all, these days really only happen once a year.
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