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Tips on Beating the Pre-Holiday Bad Vibes

Tips on Beating the Pre-Holiday Bad Vibes

It seems to happen earlier and earlier every year—I walk into a store and encounter the Christmas tree section. This year I came across a holiday display in September, and it certainly had an impact on me! I am already contemplating how my husband and I will spend the holidays and having some anticipatory anxiety as a result. If you, too, tend to struggle with anxiety and/or depression with the approach of Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Years, read on. I’ve come up with some ways to emotionally survive and even thrive during this time of year.

Remember that it’s supposed to be about having fun!

This sounds like common sense, but many people feel a sense of obligation when it comes to holidays. They feel obliged to spend time with people whom they don’t like and/or they think they have to spend money they don’t have. The result is a memory bank full of unpleasantries and a new year starting out with debt instead of future goals and hopes. They go overboard on the preparation and experience anxiety and exhaustion as a result. This year, my husband and I will be getting away for Thanksgiving week, for a desert escape. Doing so means that we don’t have to make a decision about where and with whom to have turkey day dinner and we can focus instead on enjoying time together and with our friends who are also escaping from town.

Keep it simple!

The media blasts us with constant messages that we should do more and spend more in order to have a perfect holiday. The reality, though, is that the more we go overboard, the less pleasure we tend to get from the experience. I mostly enjoy a brief, but intense, holiday season of about two weeks. It all starts with a trip to a local tree farm to choose a perfect specimen. These two weeks are all about holiday music, baking, enjoying decorations, and getting together with friends and family. I sometimes send cards, but as far as gifts go, I keep it to a minimum and give gifts with meaning rather than hefty price tags.

Make a plan, and stick to it!

Many people start out well, with a careful list of gift items, special foods, and people to invite, and then they find themselves feeling tempted to add just one more item, one more person. Before they know it, they’re feeling overextended, resentful, and exhausted. Go out early, before the stores are crowded, with a list of people you intend to shop for, and do your best to check off those names early, before everyone else is there feeling frantic. Do your shopping online by the fire with a cup of hot cider. Make handmade truffles or other treats to share rather than gifts from the mall. I sometimes enjoy going to the mall to watch everyone else shopping, to see the beautiful decorations and listen to holiday sounds, while not spending a cent.

Decide today to make this the holiday that turned out to be just the way you wanted—one filled with warmth, tradition, and wonderful memories.

Photo credit: photostock

Read more: Christmas, Family, Hanukkah, Holidays, Holidays & Gifts, Life, New Year, Thanksgiving

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Dr. Ellen Walker

Dr. Walker is a licensed clinical psychologist born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Recognizing that there is no one type of childfree adult, Walker guides clients through the positive and negative aspects of childfree living, taking into consideration the different issues faced by men or women, couples or singles, whether gay or straight. She has a clinical practice in Bellingham, Washington. She and her psychologist husband, Chris, enjoy an adventure-filled life with their two terriers, Bella and Scuppers. Learn more on her website 


+ add your own
4:16AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Thanks for the article.

5:39PM PST on Nov 24, 2011

By all means - if giving gifts, please do remember to give gifts with meaning - to the recipient!!!

The idea of Christmas is winderful. Unfortunately, the reality can be a depressing nightmare!

5:35AM PST on Nov 14, 2011

Let's go bàck to basics: The restless feeling when those holidays are nearing is material enough to think about! You may find out whàt that gutt-feeling really is! Often it is all about hypocrisy of the fenomena itself, one is not allowed to think òut of the box, during these holidays. Everyday should be a day about love and compassion . Every year it is getting more and more about consumption and greed. The rest of the year one is focusing on trying to be conscious about the envirronement and its CARBONFOOTPRINT and when december is coming one ignores these things and join the spending-hysteria. In Januari one has a indeterminate sence of inner cònflict!! Guild and confusion is the result. To get rid of that terrible feeling one starts consuming again and continues to enlarge its CARBONFOOTPRINT!

12:23PM PST on Nov 6, 2011

I love Christmas = all the hoopla and everything else!

7:31AM PDT on Nov 5, 2011


4:59AM PDT on Oct 27, 2011


9:11AM PDT on Oct 24, 2011

Thanks for the post, hope that it is a good christmas.

6:29AM PDT on Oct 24, 2011

My favorite parts of the holidays are when we all get together for the traditional ride to see all the lights or the lighting of the Christmas tree downtown or making cookies. I'm still working on my 5 year-old, who has already started on his list, LOL!

1:09PM PDT on Oct 22, 2011

Thanks. The best about X-Mas time is: when is over!

4:09AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

Make a plan and stick to it=great advice! Also, if your upcoming holiday season may not be so joyous due to a recent death, medical issue or separation from those you love, go out and volunteer to help others enjoy their holiday. I have found giving my time and energy to be very rewarding!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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