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The holidays bring a range of emotions from joy and gratitude to sadness and anxiety. Managing these emotions come more easily for some, and for others, it can be debilitating.

I asked providers at Logan Health Behavioral Health in Whitefish what they do themselves this time of year to manage holiday anxiety. Adjusting our expectations and acknowledging our feelings and desires with ourselves and others can help us to navigate through the season.

Michael Edwards, MA, LAPC, LACMichael Edwards, MA, LAPC, LAC, is a licensed clinical professional counselor and addictions counselor in Whitefish, noted that one area that comes up a lot, especially during the holidays is the desire for things to be perfect when this expectation is unrealistic.

“Individuals that carry a lot of unrealistic expectations and then keep their authentic feelings repressed have higher rates of stress and anxiety,” said Edwards. “And so, if something doesn’t go their way or they encounter negativity from someone, the key is to not take it personally, or internalize it.

Instead, try to limit time with negativity by setting healthy boundaries, and respectfully asserting oneself to allow the authentic expression of one’s feelings.”

Because the holidays add unneeded pressure, we can minimize the pressure by talking about what we want with family members, friends, or coworkers so they know what we hope to achieve. Talking it through with others will help reach a realistic and positive outcome.

The clinic’s newest provider, Ruth Myers, MD a psychiatrist, also encourages curbing our expectations through acknowledging the parts of the holiday we do not look forward to and managing that aspect.

Ruth Myers, MD“Know what parts you like about the holidays and know what parts you loathe and make a pact to protect the time for what you like, and eliminate, delegate, or reduce what you loathe,” said Myers. “For example, a friend loves the traditional foods but is stressed out by all the cooking. She makes it a group effort by involving the family in the cooking and making it a party. Other years she orders it and has it delivered.”

Identifying and addressing what takes the fun out of holiday traditions empowers you focus more on what you enjoy. Find solutions to the situations causing stress by talking it out with the people you spend the holidays with and often, you’ll find they are willing to pitch in and help.

While you can take action to improve your experience, keep in mind that making everyone happy is one of those unrealistic expectations. Being true to your feelings, sharing them with others and listening to the needs of the people closest to you will help make the holidays more enjoyable.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or 911 if a person is in immediate danger.