Monday, November 24, 2014

"Projects, Pumpkin Pie and (quite possibly) Prozac"...by Gina Waite

This picture is of me…me thinking…me thinking of every project and pumpkin-inspired recipe I’ve pinned on Pinterest in the last year! Me…recognizing I fall into the same trap EVERY Holiday Season! The closer and closer it gets to the SEASON…the further and further my mind gets from REASON! I always start off November with a conservative list of “to do” and “to buy” and faster than Martha Stewart can say, “it’s a good thing,” my mind loses all sense of reason while “visions of Sugar Plums dance in my head!” Don’t get me wrong, I am a most devoted project/provisions enthusiast! I just recognize that sometimes we get so involved in the fuss and muss we forget about OUR family and OUR sanity! We need to be kind to ourselves and lower those expectations!



This time of year can also be a time of remembering...which is wonderful...BUT can become increasingly difficult when you experience extreme loss (like the death of someone you love.) The Holiday Season can then become a painful reminder of the absence of that person! I’ve ALWAYS loved Thanksgiving and Christmas and more often than not, have had my decorations up for Christmas…by Thanksgiving! After losing my Mom last year, it was difficult for me to decorate the Christmas tree in…well...the second week of December! …And that’s where this helpful little article came in extremely handy!

The Mayo Clinic Staff has done a little research and listed ten ways to help prevent holiday stress and depression. I’m listing it today in hopes that it may help a few of you…the same few who are up to their eyeballs in projects, pumpkin pie and may possibly need a little Prozac! Be kind to yourself and others AND enjoy this Blessed Season with your family! As always...hope you'll share YOUR stories and photos with us at: nutshellstories@gmail.com!

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression:

1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.

2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

3. Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.

4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
Try these alternatives:
*Donate to a charity in someone's name.
*Give homemade gifts.
*Start a family gift exchange.

6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.

7. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.

8. Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try these suggestions:
*Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
*Get plenty of sleep.
*Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.

9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
Some options may include:
*Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
*Listening to soothing music.
*Getting a massage.
*Reading a book.

10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.