Creativity for Christmas cheer

Dec 6, 2019


It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or is it? For many people, the winter holidays are more stressful than exciting.

“The dizzying pace of the holidays — especially when Thanksgiving falls so late in November — makes the ‘dash’ all the more stressful,” says Dr. Pritham Raj, medical director of Adventist Health Portland’s Emotional Wellness Center.

Major holiday stressors include:

Family: No matter how much we love our loved ones, it’s always a challenge to bring people together who may live very different daily lives and expect them to fit back together under the umbrella of “family.”

Finances: The end of the year can feel like a financial black hole. Between buying gifts, making charitable donations and trying to keep up with the groceries and drinks necessary for holiday parties, it’s no wonder many Americans wake up to depleted savings and increased credit card debt come January.

Expectations: Thanks to movies, TV, Christmas cards and catalogs, the winter holidays have become idealized as smiles, perfectly wrapped gifts, snow, twinkle lights, and glitter. No matter how much we know that standard is impossible, many of us have a nagging belief we are failing ourselves and our families every holiday.

Most of all, keep an eye on how you’re really doing. Just because the magazines show everyone smiling their way through the holidays doesn’t mean it’s strange to feel down. Dr. Raj points out that depression can begin or deepen this time of year, especially if the holidays are associated with unpleasant life events or the loss of loved ones or relationships. “That’s why it is also important to seek professional help if you are struggling,” he says.

If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out. To be connected with one of Adventist Health Portland’s mental health providers, call us at (503) 261-5953.