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The holiday season is in full swing. We have already experienced Thanksgiving with Christmas (and Festivus for you Seinfeld fans) already upon us.

Just a few things to remember that may not be obvious in making the holiday season an enjoyable time.

1. Take time alone to reflect. Things can get so busy and rushed that we don’t have time to reflect on things that are truly important to us. Stopping to consider our blessings is always a good idea. Especially during the holidays. For people that gain energy by recharging, this is particularly important as to not burn out on parties.

2. Don’t be afraid to grieve. For some people this is the first time a family member will not be at Christmas or it is a yearly reminder of the fact they are not with the family anymore. It is okay to be sad about this. Even if you become tearful, it is normal. It may be helpful to talk about some of the memories you cherish about this person in your discussions.

3. Have manageable expectations. Most of us are familiar with Clark Griswald’s desire for a “fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.” He spends so much time with the high expectations of everything being perfect that he misses out on the joy that he could be experiencing. Don’t let this happen to you. Wasting mental energy with “if only” and “I wish” cause you to miss out the times you can be enjoying!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Christian Counseling Center!

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With the holidays comes holiday parties. Many of us will be attending parties, whether they be family, friends, church
or work. For some individuals these are more difficult and it is more than just who makes up the crowd (although that can certainly be part of it.)

If you are dreading all these “get-togethers” it could be because you are introverted. Simply defined, introverts are people that are recharged by spending time by themselves. People with this personality type are drained by large gatherings and the pressure to socialize for an extended period of time. Especially if that time is undefined. Introverts are not necessarily “anti-social” they just don’t always fit into the social butterfly mold that extroverts do. Extroverts are recharged by being around people. Interactions with people are what keep them going, so holiday parties can be much more enjoyable for them.

Tips for introverts this season:

  • If possible, don’t attend every party you are invited to
  • Predetermine how long you plan on staying
  • Take “time-outs” if you start to feel overwhelmed whether that is outside for fresh air or a quick trip to the restroom
  • Offer to help the host

So, don’t beat yourself up with holiday parties this year and remember that it is acceptable to take steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed. You are not the only one that feels that way!

As the sun begins to shine less and cold weather becomes the norm 5-10% of the population will struggle from a type of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) displays most of the same symptoms as a typical Depression diagnosis (feeling down, low energy, lack of desire to do anything) but instead of eating less a person with SAD eats more, instead of losing sleep they often sleep more.

Women are much more likely to suffer from SAD. Statistics have shown that up to four times as many women suffer from this than men. White women in their mid 30s are the most prominent demographic.

Common treatments are the same as other types of depression. These include counseling and anti-depressant medication. An additional treatment for SAD is light exposure treatment. Preventative treatment could include starting counseling in the mid fall months before the symptoms set in.

If you feel depressive symptoms during this time of year regularly you may struggle with this. Please call a therapist or talk to your doctor.

From Kansas State University:


While many see the holidays as a happy and festive time, the season can be one of the most difficult times of the year for people grieving for a recently lost loved one or struggling with depression.

It’s not unusual to have an increase in the number of people experiencing some form of depression during the holiday season, said Stephanie Wick, a Kansas State University instructor in family studies and human services and a licensed marriage and family therapist.

In addition to the holidays, the winter days are shorter, the weather is colder, and people spend more time indoors — all of which can contribute to a difficult time of year. The holidays also are perceived as a joyful time filled with family, tradition, making memories and enjoying each other’s company, Wick said.

“When you’ve lost a loved one and you’re coming up on the holiday season, there’s a giant void,” Wick said. “It’s a reminder that all these other families are celebrating this time together and enjoying their time together, but we’ve lost this person. We can’t enjoy this time because we’re not complete, we’re not whole.”

Wick says there are ways for people grieving, along with their friends and relatives, to face the holidays during a difficult time. Every person goes through grief differently, Wick said, and will approach the holidays in diverse ways.

“I think one of the most important things to do as an outsider watching a person who is grieving is to respect their healing process,” Wick said. “If they decide they don’t want to put up a Christmas tree, have a meal or open presents, as an outsider it’s important to respect that because it’s necessary for that person or that family’s process of trying to get through this holiday season.”

Sometimes simply engaging in conversations about the person who died can help the grieving process, if the grieving person is willing to talk. Telling funny stories or sharing memories can be a way to keep the person’s memory alive.

But there are certain behaviors a grieving person can exhibit that might be signals for concern, Wick said. Such behaviors can include any indication of major depression with no effort to reach out for help; refusing any help that is offered; or any type of suicidal thoughts or plans.

After someone has died it can be very difficult for a family to resume old holiday traditions. Wick suggests creating new traditions instead of trying to continue old ones during a time of grief.

“Families can do something they haven’t done before or go somewhere else for the holidays,” Wick said. “It’s a way of marking the new phase, but also preserving the old traditions and the memory of those traditions with the person who has died.”

It’s important to remember that the grieving process takes time, Wick said.

“It gets easier with time,” she said. “The first holiday is the hardest. For many people it’s a process of surviving, just getting through one holiday at a time.”

 

 

v Make a Christmas picture book from old Christmas cards.  Stack the cards on top of each other with all the pictures facing down the same side.  Sew the cards together along the crease and refold to form a book.

v Fancy sneakers make a one-of-a kind gift.  For children or adults.  Buy plain white sneakers from a craft or discount store.  Use a hot glue gun to decorate with buttons, ribbons, and lace.  Or use fabric paint to stencil designs.

v Even if you don’t bake you can still give food as gifts.  Buy in bulk and personalize your gifts by packing them in a unique container (for instance, a flower pot, mixing bowl, or decorative glass jar, etc.).

v Make handprint cards.  First, have the father use a colored pencil to trace around his hand on a sheet of paper.  Next, have the mother trace her hand inside the outline of the father’s hand.  Then trace around the children’s hands, each inside the outlines of the others.  Use different colors for each person.

v Make homemade wrapping paper using brown paper bags.  Decorate with paint, markers or rubber stamps.

v Buy clear Christmas balls and have family members decorate them with acrylic paint.                          Taken from “Holiday gift ideas” by Ellyn Sanna


 

Christmas is a time to share our love and make special memories to last a lifetime. Even the simplest activities can become a heritage of love, stored up in our children’s memories for them to share one day with their own families. Here are a few ideas on making memories:

  1. Take a drive to see the Christmas lights. Bundle the kids up and take a late night drive to see as many lights and decorations as you can. Sing Carols as you go.
  2. Put together a “time capsule” to be opened at a predetermined Christmas in the future. Put the front page of the newspaper, a picture, drawings, video or audio tape, and a list of presents. Get everyone to write a wish or prediction.
  3. Help an elderly neighbor decorate their home, take food, or take them shopping.
  4. Set up a treasure hunt for your children leading to a present. Give easy clues for younger ones and harder clues for older children. Leave a candy cane or cookie s beside some of the clues.

These are just a few ideas helping make Christmas a little more fun. Allow your creativity to start some new family traditions as you celebrate the holidays.

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2007-10-10

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