Dear Angelo,

I find the holidays to be frustrating, not pleasurable, especially this year with the recession. Do you have any suggestions that might help.

Signed, Scrooge


Dear Scrooge,

The holidays can be frustrating for many people. I find that there's four common areas the can cause Holiday Frustration: Fantasies, Food, Finances, and Family.

Fantasies

We see warm Norman Rockwell like images all around us this time of year, but for many the reality can be more like Norman Bates. Keep in mind that many of these dream like pictures are geared to play on your sentimentality to sell you something. So avoid falling into "shoulding" yourself as in thinking "my life should be like..." This kind of toxic thinking only makes us feel like we can't measure up, and leads to a sense of lack, bitterness, and sadness -- not very festive qualities.

Instead, try to tap into your inner well of joy, being the joy you're looking for, carrying positive expectancy that good things are waiting for you out there. Believe that the right people and circumstances will cross your path. In short, hold on to hope. A bit of wisdom says "Life experiences are like coins. You lose them sitting on the couch." Isolating doesn't work. Get out, take your power, and create the experiences you want instead of waiting for something or someone outside yourself to bring them to you.

Food

Many of us feel vulnerable this time of year and it's fairly common to literally stuff our feelings down with food. While I encourage you to enjoy the holiday fare, try not to overdo it. This is especially true for spirits, as alcohol is a depressant and in the long run makes the holiday blues worse. Feel your feelings and confront things as you move through your life. Try not to let negative emotions stop you from living. Remember, feeling is healing. Besides, if you overeat then you gain weight, and most of us end up beating ourselves up for that, feeling even worse. So remember to eat wisely, drink in moderation, stay active, and get enough rest. In short, take care of yourself.

Finances

It's also common to spend to feel better. While it's nice to give, it''s a good idea to have a budget. Try not to spend more than you can afford to impress. Remember that a gift is just that -- a gift. The cost isn't a measure of the value. You can make something thoughtful, buy something inexpensive that has meaning, or just truly being with someone (presence) can be a present. You can also help others by donating goods, or being of service with your time. Lastly, don't forget to give to the most important person in your life -- YOU!

Family

Some families are unbearable, or unsafe, and you need to take care of yourself by doing what's best for you. But whenever you can, look for the goodness in people. There's always the relative that drives us nuts and most families are dysfunctional. But try not to rob yourself of the love that's there. Keep healthy boundaries, but try to enjoy things as they are whenever possible.

In summary, the bottom line is that you have the power to make something ugly or beautiful.

All The Best, Angelo.