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Three myths that cause mental stress

Dr. Beth B. Williams • Dec 16, 2017 at 4:00 PM

It is the end-of-year holiday season and in order to truly enjoy it with family and friends let’s expel these three myths, which often cause mental stress:

• The Holidays are special

The hype, generated by media and merchants, pushes you to run, run, run. You have to put up and decorate a tree, send tons of cards, bake all kinds of cookies and attend numerous parties and consume vast quantities of food and/or alcohol. This can result in a holiday season that is busier, more expensive, unhealthier and more stressful than any other during the year.

If you stop and think about the holidays, you realize they are really no different from any other public holidays, or for that matter, any other day. We are the ones who make them super important and pile ourselves with unrealistic expectations to make them magical.

• Big presents, equals big love

The commercialization of the holidays equates the price of a gift with the amount of love we have for someone. Love equals money. We measure love by how expensive the gifts are, whether we like to admit it or not. In order to display our affection, we feel obliged to give presents that are of a certain monetary value, even if that means stretching beyond what we can afford. That is a perfect way to land ourselves in stress, not to mention debt.

Stop listening to the external messages and realize how much you can afford and is that gift really necessary. Create a budget and follow it. Talk to your family about holiday expectations. This time of the year is about spending quality time with family and reaching out to people less fortunate than us. One of the best gifts you can give is to just be there.

• Everything must be perfect-including yourself

Trying to recreate the magic of the holidays we remember as children is unrealistic. The desire to be perfect reaches its peak during the holidays. The perfect tree, the perfect meal, the perfect present. Instead be comfortable with yourself and your surroundings and enjoy a less stressful holiday. No one is perfect, just be content and supportive to help everyone find a moment of joy.

Simplifying our expectations and focusing on what is important during the holiday season makes for a stress-free and happier experience. For more information feel free to call the board office at 419-668-8649.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Beth B. Williams is executive director of the Huron County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

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