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Unhappy Holidays? Ridgewood Y Program Gets You Through

Emily Austein, Ridgewood psychotherapist.
Emily Austein, Ridgewood psychotherapist. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Emily Austein

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Ridgewood psychotherapist Emily Austein has a message for the public: it’s OK to feel a little down this time of year.

“The idea is to be aware of being more lonely or depressed,” she said, “but not get worked up around those feelings.

“They will pass.”

Austein, who has a private practice in the village, is offering the first-ever “Holiday Survival Guide” at the YWCA Bergen County in Ridgewood 8:30 a.m. Dec. 14.

The 90-minute program focuses on ways to cope with difficult emotions that tend to simmer inside people during the holidays.

Feelings of inadequacy or frustration are rooted in striving for perfectionism, according to Austein.

She likes to break down what’s internally happening around each stressor.

Consider focusing on buying the perfect gift.

“It’s a matter of realizing the gift itself is not the problem,” Austein said. “It may be the impulse to outdo what your parents did for you.

“Or it may be the underlying issue of finances that make that gift difficult to buy.”

Delving into a particular stressor, Austein said, allows a person to calm down and see it for what it really is.

The tech age can complicate the emotional experience of the holidays, according to Austein.

On social media, she explained, people create an idealized version of themselves.

“And there’s a lot of comparing yourself to others,” Austein said.

“It’s comparing and then feeling ‘less than’ or unworthy in a very short amount of time,” she added. “It can happen 60 times over in a single swipe of your app.”

She recommends setting time aside to be off social media during all times of year, particularly now.

In her program, Austein will teach how to recognize stressors, set boundaries, and create realistic personal expectations.

One adjusted expectation may involve a loved one with a substance abuse problem.

“You may want to have a relationship,” Austein explained, “but you also know they’re not capable of having the relationship you want. You’ve got to learn how to navigate that.”

One way of dealing with the holiday season, she suggested, is to recognize what you need from it and not stress if you don’t get what you need.

Because holidays, she said, can be very disappointing.

The YWCA Bergen County in Ridgewood is at 112 Oak St.

“Holiday Survival Guide” costs non-members $15 per person.

For registration information, CLICK HERE.

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