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PROTECT YOUR PEACE
Channeling your inner It's a Wonderful Life when your relatives are the Griswolds
A December to Remember, For Better or Worse
No matter what you celebrate, December is the month of obligatory family gatherings. Do winter holidays make you cringe at the thought of being drilled about your personal life? Is accommodating various family members with food allergies and dietary preferences making you regret your offer to host so you could hoard all the leftovers and cookies? Do the lyrics of The Twelve Pains of Christmas embody every aunt, uncle and cousin? You are not alone. Don’t let your tinsel get in a bunch. Follow these easy tricks to help survive another season of merry and bright.
Tip #1: ACCEPTANCE & EXPECTATIONS
You know your family has not changed since you saw them last, and they may never change. Accept this and love them for who they are, to the best of your ability. Maintain an open mind by lowering your expectations of your relatives. Every year your stepmom and your brother-in-law bicker whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Who cares?! Smile and tune them out. Add it to your bingo card. (See below.) If you walk through the front door knowing you grew up with the Griswolds and not the Baileys, a few days with these people will become manageable.
Tip #2: BE PREPARED
If interrogations about your personal life make your eggnog sour, use one of these tactics to divert the conversation. Q: With your looks Dear, how are you still single? A: Like the rest of the country, supply chain issues I guess. Q: Honey, have you put on weight? A: Yes! I’m into the latest trends and curves are SO 2023! Q: When are you going to get a real job? A: Now if I do that, you won’t have anything to ask me about next holiday! The key is delivery. Be sincere, flash a genuine smile, reply in a regular tone of voice and remain calm. Although irritating, these people do love you. They want the best for you and intrusive questioning is their bizarre way of showing that love.
Tip #3: BINGO ANYONE?
Before you spin that dreidel, meet up with friends and plan a game of Dysfunctional Family Bingo. Each person customizes a bingo card to fit the hilarity of their respective family. Categories may include but are not limited to: passive aggressive comments, something burns in the oven, too many casseroles, whiny vegan cousin, homophobic uncle, clogged toilet, half-assed dinner prayer, someone’s awkward new significant other, who isn’t speaking to who this year, grandpa’s politics, cat puking in the living room, and the list goes on. You know your family best so fill out those bingo squares and keep a pen handy. Loop in a trusted younger sibling to play along for twice the fun. Meet with friends after the holidays, compare stories, and whomever has the fullest bingo card gets treated to lunch! Laughter is the best medicine and playing a simple game will keep you focused on the humor and not on the adversity. Cheers and Happy New Year!
Winter holiday season places heavy emphasis on family, togetherness, and pressure to be a picture-perfect nuclear unit just like the holiday movies we all love to hate. Some families embody the FUN in dysfunctional. The reality is winter holidays can bring out the worst in people, cause mental triggers we never knew we had, and drudge up trauma we thought we dealt with or buried long ago.
Rush Oak Park Hospital is here to get you through the end of the year, in one piece, and living your favorite life as best you can. Rush offers several types of treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) tailored to fit your needs, lifestyle, and anxiety symptoms. Everyone may feel some anxiety or tension symptoms flare up during the months of November and December (translation: during potentially stressful family gatherings.) Rush offers “booster sessions,” to refresh coping skills learned during therapy so you can avoid a relapse.
People with autism can find obligatory large gatherings especially difficult or aggravating. Rush has trained Autism experts to help those on the spectrum deal with holiday stress in ways that fit their specific needs. Rush is also here for the loved ones of those with Autism. The holiday season should be a peaceful, fun experience for everyone in your circle.
Remember to make time for yourself, feel empowered to say no to holiday gatherings and added expenses, and remember to laugh and breathe. The new year will be here before you know it, and everyone will back to their normal craziness. Instead of the insane holiday craziness!
No matter how much you try to stay low-key, fly under the radar, and maintain your Zen, December can be stressful. Obligatory holiday gatherings for work, your family and peer group can push anyone to their breaking point. If this time of year has you feeling depressed, anxious, stressed, or questioning if you have PTSD, please know you are not alone. Sixty-four percent of Americans with diagnosed mental conditions report winter holidays make their conditions worse.
The holiday season is often heralded as a time of joy and togetherness. However, for many people, winter holidays are a time of loneliness, depression, and unbearable stress. Please know you are not alone. This is often due to increased pressure to spend time with family and friends, as well as added financial stress of obligatory gift-giving. Shorter days and colder weather also lead to feelings of despair. Any holiday season can be a trigger for painful memories, and reminders of what people don’t have and unmet expectations. Winter holidays cause 88 percent of average Americans more stress than other times of the year.
December holidays should be viewed like Thanksgiving. If your family is just too much, then stay home. Take care of you. Order a pizza or takeout, watch your favorite non-holiday movie, go for a long walk, read your favorite book, bake your favorite treats, and don’t share them. If you feel a little bit social, spend time with people who make you feel like your best, favorite self.
If you struggle mentally or emotionally during the winter, please reach out for help. If you are not comfortable confiding in a trusted person in your life, please call an anonymous hotline or online service. You are not alone. Riveredge Hospital in Forest Park is here for you this holiday season and all year round. Riveredge Hospital is the largest free-standing psychiatric hospital in Illinois with a full continuum of inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services for children, adolescents, and adults. Please call today 708-771-1000. You will be glad you did.
The obligatory winter holiday season is upon us. Another round of hearing Uncle Frank complain about knee pain, Grandma Iris talk about her lower back, and your cousin bemoan high school sports injuries (she’s over 40). Just once, wouldn’t it be peaceful to gather knowing your loved ones are at their physical best, no matter their ages? Refer your family to B-Health.
Winter holiday gatherings are a leading cause of mental and digestive stress. It is common knowledge that mental and emotional stress trigger physical reactions causing headaches, TMJ, migraines, back issues, shoulder tension, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation and more. So get your immune and digestive systems on track before heading over the river and through the woods. B-Health’s Certified Health and Wellness Coach work with your lifestyle to optimize your digestive health before you eat your feelings in mashed potatoes.
B-Health’s Doctors of Physical Therapy can assess and treat you with manual-based physical therapy and teach you corrective exercises to keep your body comfortable before and after a nine-hour car ride to visit second cousins. At-home exercises will ward off muscle tension when you’re struggling not to tell your great-aunt exactly where she can go.
Winter holidays can be as picturesque as It’s a Wonderful Life if you focus on laughing at little things and taking care of yourself mentally and physically. B-Health is here this busy season and year-round for you and your entire family. Please call 312-801-0318 or CLICK HERE to schedule a complimentary appointment.
Put the Fun Back in Dysfunctional and Enjoy Your Holiday Season
Nothing says holiday season like some good old fashioned family drama. Not all family spectacles are bad or unhealthy. Sometimes drama makes you laugh and becomes a fond memory for years to come. However, living in an active senior community, you may enjoy your daily and weekly routines. Traveling for the holidays can be unpredictable, unnerving, and chaotic. Plan ahead. A few simple plans can make and keep your season merry and bright.
Chose your seat wisely. If you attended Woodstock but your nieces and nephews live in red states, seat yourself at the kids table among your grandchildren. The conversation will revolve around the environment and music. And they can help you download the latest apps on your smartphone so you can follow them on TikTok.
How will you react? Do you grow impatient in grocery store check-outs or Starbucks lines? Do you fall asleep during your cousin’s long-winded stories that have no point? Crying babies make your skin crawl? Be aware of your triggers and think about alternative ways to cope. Deep breaths, read magazines in the grocery line, excuse yourself when the baby starts to fuss.
Go for walks. Preferably alone. Nothing says peace and quiet like freshly fallen snow. Have you noticed people speak in softer tones around fresh snow falls? It is a natural subconscious reaction. Too cold for the outdoors? Excuse yourself to your room or go for a drive. By yourself. Me-time will help you regroup. You will be in a better place mentally to enjoy your family and your time together.
Limit your time with family. You are not obligated to stay the entire month of December. If you know your limit is four days, leave on day five! Quality time over quantity of time is key to a happy celebration.
Remember to laugh. There must be something you like about these people, or you wouldn’t come back every year. Help everyone remember the good times by sharing stories and funny memories from holidays gone by. It can be your choice to have a positive, lighthearted reaction to anything that happens while your family is under one roof.
And remember, you get to go home. Home - back to your active senior community amongst your friends where you can laugh as everyone compares stories about weird family members. American House can make sure you have a refuge from the family you love to laugh about. Call today for a tour!
Caring for an aging loved one is rewarding. But if you have a career outside the home, balancing the two can be delicate. Add in the extra time, financial responsibilities, and stress of the holiday season… Your plate went from full to overflowing. Right at Home is here to help you stabilize your juggling act. Read our blog about caregivers and give us a call today.
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