One thing that makes holidays difficult is our expectation of holidays past, real or imagined, says Deborah Bunim, PhD, LCSW, a clinical social worker with offices in Englewood and Ridgewood. Dr. Bunim says these ideals often become our standard for what we should be and feel like, which can get in our way of enjoying the best of the season.
Unfortunately, reality cannot often live up to the perceived perfection of the past. "Families change, people die, people move away, friendships shift," she said. "Without a flexible understanding of such changes one can yearn for what was or for what one feels others have instead of finding the joy in the reality of the present."
Another disappointment is when we feel less comfortable around people we think we are supposed to love being around but who we now realize do not make us feel as comfortable as they used to.
Or perhaps when we were younger this or that person did not rub us the wrong way while now they do.This can be for many reasons such as differing political views, off-putting personality traits or rivalries that come up from the past.
Sometimes alcohol makes it worse, bringing on behavior that is inappropriate, making us wish we could head for the door.
When it comes to planning holiday visits with family, remember that often, shorter visits are best, she said. Consider, too, changing that overnight to a one day visit or an even shorter visit if you anticipate disappointment.
"Take stock of people in your life who you feel good around and try to make them part of your holiday," she advised. "Holidays come and go quickly and proportionately are a very small part of life. Focus on making yourself happy and comfortable."
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