The holidays are often cited as having highest incidences of suicides per year. The holidays are meant to be a celebration and a joyous event. Many times the holidays bring on emotional and financial stress. Going into these holidays, you may be thinking to yourself, “How am I going to be able to get through them?”. Below is a list of things to do in order to have a more fulfilling holiday experience.

1. Increase your holiday activities
It may seem counterproductive that you would throw yourself into more activities; however when working with clients who are depressed one of my first recommendations is to increase pleasurable activities. Wear the ugly sweater on Ugly Sweater Day at work. Go to a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Pick something you loved to do as a kid during the holidays and do it (ice skating or writing a letter to Santa). Give into the holiday spirit and see where it takes you.

2. Give thanks and time to others
This is a focus around Thanksgiving. When you thank people, you are honoring them and the relationship you have with them only stands to get better through gratitude. You can take another spin on this and give back to those who are in need. You can buy a present for a child and donate it. You can serve Thanksgiving dinner at a soup kitchen. Find whatever speaks to you and give to others.

3. Give thanks to yourself
Taking time for yourself and to regroup is just as important as going places and seeing people. Women from all over the country have begun watching Lifetime and Hallmark channel Christmas movies. Carve out a night where you make it your holiday night. Have a festive drink, watch a holiday movie and wear your favorite holidays pajamas. Men can create their own version of this by watching Bad Santa, drinking seasonal flavored beers and breaking out the Santa boxers.

4. Only do as much as you can
We are a consumer society and the holidays are reinforced by it. There are the holiday meals, the presents, the decorations, the ugly sweaters, the Christmas trees, the Hanukkah bushes, the cards, and the list goes on and on. Having a solid plan for your holiday spending is wise. Make a list of what your expected expenses will be and set a budget from there. Be realistic with your budget and communicate it assertively. Sometimes the stress of it is figuring out where you are going to get the money for the holidays. An appropriate mantra would be “I do as much as I can do”.

I hope everyone has a wonderful beginning to the holiday season. With some mental preparation, it can go smoothly. Happy Thanksgving and Happy Hanukkah!

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Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at amanda@amandapattersonlmhc.com.