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Surviving the Holidays


With the holidays approaching, it can be a time of family and joy yet often blended with stress and grief.  If these months feel difficult for you, you are not alone.  The holidays may be a strong reminder of loss that you have felt, whether through death, relocation, infertility, perhaps your relationship dissolved, etc. There is no better time to extend yourself some grace, and give yourself extra care during these following months.

Below are a few practical ways to manage your stress during the holidays.

Take time for youself: As your calendar starts to fill with office work functions, holiday get-togethers with friends, and family dinners, remember to a lot some time for yourself. Packing yourself full of to-do’s will allow your stress level to rise, taking the joy out of the season. Whether it is a 20 minute trip to Starbucks to enjoy your favorite mocha, or a weekend reserved for cuddling up for your favorite TV movie, taking time for YOU will minimize the hustle and bustle.


Honor your feelings: If you get in the habit of living according to your “Shoulds” and “Oughts”, you will find this season hard to bear. “ I shouldn’t feel sad, it’s Christmas”, or “ I ought to go to the baby shower even though it hurts me that I am battling infertility right now”….change your way of thinking and honor what you are feeling. If you feel a flood of loss because of a loved one you said goodbye to this year, find a special way to honor them such as making an ornament for them for your tree, or eat a nice dinner at their favorite restaurant etc. It is very important to acknowledge what you are feeling, and not just coast on auto pilot…. Counseling can be a wonderful way to navigate through those feelings.


Know when to say No: With a barrage of commitments loading up, learn how to say no to extend your sanity. You can’t make everyone happy, and you are only one person! If you have the “Can’t-Say-No syndrome, try “I am so thankful for our friendship, but was wondering if we could postpone our get together until after the holidays so we can enjoy our time together and not feel rushed?”. They will appreciate your suggestion, and you will feel a little more anchored and less stressed with one more engagement on your calendar.


Take care of your body: With buffets and wide dinner spreads galore, don’t forget to take care of yourself this holiday season. Overeating can increase your lethargy, and do a doozie on your esteem if you engage in a cycle of self-loathing after you eat more than you had hoped. Continue to get important nutrients, and forego the candy canes to feel your best. Of course, enjoy your time at the table with family and friends, but remember to engage in regular moderate exercise to continue to keep your serotonin levels steady, and feel your best inside and out. Try a walk around the block after your turkey dinner, instead of collapsing into the traditional Thanksgiving coma. You’ll be thankful you did!


Surround yourself with positive people: We all have those people in our lives who enjoy some company in their disdain for the season. Focus your time and energy on people who make you feel good and support and encourage you. If your family is negative all the time, set healthy boundaries in your relationships, and invest your time into your family of friends who may have a more positive outlook.


Give: If the holidays are difficult for you, nothing will stir your heart with gratitude more than helping others who are also in need. Whether you mentor a teen who’s home life is difficult, adopt a family who can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner, give your old warm clothing to a homeless shelter, or volunteer at a local soup kitchen, you will be blessed. Look beyond your situation and give to those who are hurting, and watch your spirits rise.


Take a moment for yourself this holiday season. Call to schedule your appointment at 248.387.9188




The Wellness Collective
Claire Maurer-Hogan, MA, LPC, NCC

Professional Counselor

8391 Commerce Road, Suite 101
Commerce Township,
Michigan 48382
Click for Interactive map and driving directions