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Dr. Bill Austin

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Professional Columns -
Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin


During the holidays, many of us experience what has been called Holiday Blues. We find ourselves feeling sad during a time when everyone is supposed to be happier than they ordinarily are. No doubt the reasons for holiday blues are not the same for every one of us. Each of us has our own reasons for feeling the blues.

One of the reasons we experience holiday blues is because of losses in our lives. We may find ourselves grieving for the lost of a spouse, parent, family member or that special friend. The loss changes how we experience our holiday rituals, anniversaries, vacations and important family events. We not only have to rediscover who we are without that person but also create a new "normal."

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Another loss for many of us is the loss of the childhood wonder and thrill. As a child we were amazed when we woke up to discover wonderful presents. What joy and surprise!. Now as adults, the holidays remind us that our lives have lost that childhood thrill and surprise. Even during the holidays we have to deal with the stress of trying to shop, fighting traffic and crowds, as well as worrying about spending too much.

Other reasons we experience Holiday Blues is because of the "overs."
We over spend,
over schedule, and over commit.

Our holiday expectations may cause us sadness. We want everyone to get along but some families have strained and broken relationships. Holidays can make us more aware of our broken and strained relationships and, of course, that can cause sadness. Another unrealistic expectation is that everything has to be perfect.

Other reasons we experience Holiday Blues is because of the "overs." We over spend, over schedule, and over commit. Some of us take on too much so we spread ourselves too thin. Before the holidays are over, we are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

What can we do? Briefly, there are a few things we can do to find the holidays relaxing and take care of ourselves.

Feel what we feel. We don't have to be happier than we ordinarily are. Find ways to express your feelings - such as keeping a journal. A journal is a wonderful way of pouring out our feelings. When feelings are denied or stuffed, they become stronger, but when we take them out into the light of day, they lose their power.

Simplify- talk with the family and downsize activities and spending. Set realistic goals. Delegate and make time for ourselves such as time for exercise, reading or being together with some friends. Establish a budget and stick by it.

Celebrate the holidays in a new way. Do something different this year such as taking a trip or planning to celebrate the holidays with people who are supportive and caring. Call an old friend who you haven't talked to in a long time.

We need to take care of ourselves and include everything in moderation, getting plenty of rest, and exercising.

Dr. Austin has decades of experience dealing with relationships. He charges clients on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. His first book, Creating Our Safe Place: Articles on Healthy Relationships, was published in 2004. His second book, Keeping It Safe, was published in 2009 and can be purchased through,, and at the Parrish Book Store in Virginia Beach.  He is also a sought-after speaker at meetings and seminars.

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