DETROIT – It may be the most wonderful time of the year but it’s also one of the most stressful.
During the holidays, it’s easy to get overbooked and overwhelmed. While many of us have a hard time doing it, experts claim it’s especially important to learn it’s OK to say “No.”
Theresa Dodge is a mother of three from Clarkston who loves the holidays.
“Oh, it is my absolute favorite time of the year,” Dodge said.
She always found a way to do it all.
“You start a list of what you need to do for the holiday and the list is this long," Dodge said. "You’re going through it and you realize I keep adding to the list. Instead of taking care of what’s on the list I keep adding to it.”
She learned the hard way that she had to start letting things go. Dodge ended up in the hospital seven times to be treated for stress.
That’s where she said she had an epiphany about the holiday season.
“Christmas is about thinking about your blessings," Dodge said. "Thinking about that, your family’s here and you’re healthy. You know that’s really what it is and it took me a long time to realize that.”
Dodge isn’t alone. Mental health experts believe saying “No” this holiday season could be the most important way to protect your mental health.
Carrie Krawiec is a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Birmingham Maple Clinic on Big Beaver Road in Troy. She said there are four things people should say “No” to this season.
Say “No” to perfection
“There’s a lot of wants of how things should be or how they look compared to other people with social media and Pinterest and holiday pictures,” Krawiec said. “I always like the saying, ‘Happiness equals reality minus expectations.' When people set unreasonable expectations and they’re vastly different from what’s possible in the reality, they’re going to end up unhappy and disappointed or feeling guilt and feeling some kind of stress.”
Say “No” to feeling depleted
“When I think about like all of these things -- knowing too much, spending too much, eating too much, drinking too much -- time with family has too many commitments," Krawiec said.
It’s important to set boundaries so people don’t end up feeling like they’re doing more than they can.
“It’s really a sign within inside ourselves that we need to look at what we’re taking in or what we’re putting out,” Krawiec said. “I think guilt and resentment are two signs that we’re doing too much.”
Say “No” to obligations
“Two boundaries we always have with us are time and space. If someone asks you to take on another commitment or to do another event -- whatever that might be -- first give yourself some time,” Krawiec said. “I need some time to think about it. I need some time to see if that fits in my schedule.”
Say “No” to unlimited family time
Krawiec said when you’re weighing the pros and cons of a social event, you should make it a four-sided list.
“The pros of going, the cons of going, the pros of not going and the cons of not going,” Krawiec said. “It gives a much bigger picture and it gives you a lot more information to make a decision.”
Find some you-time
Experts claim setting aside a little time each day during the holiday season to do something that nourishes you -- take time to do some simple things like take a walk, write in a journal or even do nothing. It’s important to make sure you decompress this time of year.
“I stop and like take in the moment," Dodge said. "Instead of getting caught up in all of the hustle and bustle and everything, you have to take a second and say, ‘OK. Just relax.’”