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Ask the Expert: Taking Care of YOU During the Holiday Season

Posted by on Nov. 23, 2010 at 6:05 PM
  • 24 Replies

Do you get stressed out during the holiday season? Do you need some tips for taking care of yourself when you're so busy planning and buying gifts for others?

CafeMom is pleased to welcome Dr. Diane Sanford, a psychologist specializing in women's health issues and postpartum adjustment, to the group to answer YOUR questions about coping during the stressful holiday season.

Ask Dr. Sanford about anything that's on your mind during this busy season--how to deal with stress, how to stay focused, how to carve out "me" time, how to maintain healthy relationships, or anything else that you're struggling with.

Read her introduction to the topic below, then reply with your questions. Dr. Sanford will post her replies here as well. She will check in with the group all week from Monday November 30 through Friday December 3.

Enjoy the season, and take care of yourself!

by on Nov. 23, 2010 at 6:05 PM
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Replies (1-10):
DrDianeSanford
by on Nov. 23, 2010 at 6:11 PM

How to Take Care of Yourself This Season

Some helpful tips from Dr. Diane Sanford

Often, this time of year can be stressful and difficult for moms as they struggle to get things done and make everyone happy.  While most of us didn't grow up with Hallmark holidays, we still expect ourselves to deliver them.  The perfect gift, the perfect greeting card, the perfect tree, and the list goes on and on.

This holiday season, we challenge you to make your own health and well-being an equal priority.  Like we said in the 21-Day Self Care Challenge, we've got to take care of ourselves, if we want to take good care of those we love.  After all, we can't give what we don't have.

The following suggestions are designed to help you create a peaceful and happy holiday experience.  Likewise, they will serve you well year-round if you practice them regularly.

First, have realistic expectations of yourself.  Many of us feel disappointed at the holidays because our "fairytale images" don't materialize. Instead, we need to focus on feeling good from the inside out.  Build a fire and roast marshmallows, shop with a friend, or take a long walk in the woods.  These are treasures no one can take away from us.      

Second, have realistic expectations of others.  No one's family or friends are perfect, and the holidays won't change this.  So, since we can't change them, we need to rely on ourselves to gather what's positive and let go of the negative.  If a situation becomes too negative, leave.   

Likewise, don't take relationship stress too personally.  Tis the season for this to occur.   If your partner snaps about household clutter because they're stringing Christmas lights while baking cookies, understand it's their problem.  Don't let them take their bad mood out on you but don't react poorly either.

Remember compassion toward ourselves and others is the intention of the holidays.  Let your inner light burn brightly, extinguishing the dark.   

For more tips and daily reminders, visit Living Self Care    

 

DrDianeSanford
by on Nov. 29, 2010 at 8:59 PM

Since I haven't heard from anyone yet, I'm sending some food for thought.  Who has a great tip for reducing holiday stress?  Or send me a question about the greatest fear you have about the holidays this year, and I can share my ideas to help w/that.  Or, your worst holiday story and what you learned from it.  Anything on your mind.  I'm glad to answer all questions and concerns. 

Hope to hear from you soon.  Warmly, Dr.Diane Sanford 

DestMasters
by on Nov. 29, 2010 at 10:57 PM

Hi Dr. Sanford:

Thanks for giving your time to us!

My stress-source, typically, this time of year is the convergence of all the family, most of whom don't get along real well with each other (or themselves likely) yet insist on spending hours in the same room together.

Short of leaving my own home to see asylum elsewhere, what are some tips for juggling the people, personalities and conflicts?

Thanks!

tgirl63
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 8:13 AM
Greetings Dr. Sanford:
Thanks for sharing a moment to comment. My biggest fear during the holiday season is that it often happens that tragedy strikes. My first encounter was in '95 when my uncle passed away a week before Christmas. A year later my co-workers brother on Christmas Day. I have a fear that something might go wrong. I truly used to love the Holidays, but now a just have so much anxiety. Even Financially it is a stressful time of year! Ugh. Any advise? Thank you.

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Stormy6669
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Thanks for this!

fabpilates
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 12:43 PM
I find that making time everyday to take a walk and reflect on what's on your agenda, how you can manage it and what you are thankful for helps me to face my life and the upcoming holidays.
Even if its just 15 minutes it always helps me. Happy and stress free holidays to all!
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Amithyst
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 4:16 PM

 My fiancee lost his father a week before Thanksgiving. Do you have any advice for me on how I can help him through this difficult loss during the holidays? He is not always forthcoming with his feelings.

DrDianeSanford
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 9:15 PM

Dear DestMasters,

The best way to deal w/relatives who don't get along is to stay out of the middle.  Don't try to change/fix how the relate to each other.  At the same time, if they're at your house and get obnoxious, politely but firmly remind them that you expect people to be respectful of each other in your home, especially at the holidays.  Focus your attention on being kind and considerate toward each of them and setting the tone you want. 

Diane Sanford, Ph.D. Real Mom Expert, Co-Author Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom's Postpartum Survival Guide

DrDianeSanford
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 9:24 PM

Dear tgirl 63,

I certainly understand your dreading the holidays if multiple bad things have happened then.  Unfortunately, life is full of losses and gains, gains and losses, and they occur all times of the year.  One of the best books I know about regaining hope when you can't imagine enjoying life fully again, like getting back your love for the holidays, is Rabbi Harold Kushner's book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  I would encourage you to put your attention on what you can control and plan to do things you used to enjoy.  Also, stop finances from becoming stressful by limiting what you spend and making a gift of your time or company instead.

Diane Sanford, Ph.D. Real Mom Expert, Co-Author Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom's Postpartum Survival Guide

DrDianeSanford
by on Nov. 30, 2010 at 9:27 PM

Hi Stormy6669,

Gratitude is always appreciated.  I love your Peanuts picture.  Do you have any idea where I can find the one of Lucy w/the lemonade stand sign which says "The doctor is in." 

Best to you!

Diane Sanford, Ph.D. Real Mom Expert, Co-Author Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom's Postpartum Survival Guide

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