This post was brought to you by Scarsdale Medical Group.
The holidays may be the most wonderful time of year, but they don’t come without the inevitable stress. We spoke with Dr. Catherine Isaac of Scarsdale Medical Group, who works with patients on stress management. The good news is that there are a few basic principles you can incorporate into your life in order to relax and enjoy the holidays as much as possible.
Set Realistic Expectations
People tend to try to do everything — buy the perfect gift for everyone on their list; see every family and friend over the holidays; have new and exciting foods at their gathering — and set unrealistically high expectations for themselves. “We end up losing the joy and momentum of the holidays,” points out Dr. Isaac. She recommends taking your to-do list and cutting it down by 50 percent. Set a few key priorities and don’t try to do it all.
She also recommends asking others for help over the holidays, which is something that many find difficult to do. “It’s important to understand that perfection is not achievable,” says Dr. Isaac. “Don’t seek it, and you’ll be much more likely to enjoy yourself.”
Love Is a Verb, Especially When It Comes to Family
“Don’t expect family members to change or act differently because it’s the holidays,” says Dr. Isaac. “Loving your family is being patient, compassionate and kind. Understand who your family members are, and why they are the way they are.” Strive to be patient and understanding when your kids are overwhelmed or overexcited. The same also goes for the grown-ups, and don’t forget to forgive yourself, too. If you overindulge or find yourself growing impatient, don’t beat yourself up. If you need a break at a family event, take one. Go for a walk — a breath of fresh air can work wonders!
Don’t Try to Create Experiences for Others
“It’s an important lesson to understand that we cannot manipulate others’ experiences,” says Dr. Isaac. If you plan for your family to take in a show and dinner, but the kids end up bickering and falling asleep in the theater, try to understand that this is not a failure. “You will enjoy yourself much more if you don’t try to force others’ feelings and experiences,” advises Dr. Issac. “Enjoy yourself and you will exude joy. Practice patience and you’ll exude compassion. People will gravitate toward you.”
Remember What the Holidays Are About
If you are feeling like you cannot wait until the holidays are over, this is a sign that you need to start doing things differently and set a new goal for yourself.
Remember the reason that we have these holidays — to spend time with the people we love — and ask yourself how you can make them more meaningful. “This is not an opportunity to focus on what’s not going well in your life,” Dr. Issac says. Instead, shift your thinking to the past year and what things have gone well. Positivity and simplicity are the basic elements of happiness. “Focusing on the endpoint of joy and happiness will enable you to enjoy this time of year — and always. “
Catherine P. Isaac, MD, received her undergraduate education from New York University and her medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Isaac is board-certified in internal medicine has an interest in mind-body medicine and its role in prevention of chronic disease. She loves teaching and lecturing and has spoken nationally on the health benefits of mind-body medicine. Dr. Isaac sees patients in consultation for integrative medicine, stress management and mind-body medicine.
The provision of high-quality, personalized health care to Westchester County and New York’s Hudson Valley region has been the mission of the Scarsdale Medical Group for more than 50 years. Their working philosophy of compassion, confidence, and commitment has enabled them to become known and respected by patients and peers throughout the tri-state area.