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Holiday Expectations: From Norman Rockwell to Just Plain Normal

In the weeks leading up to the mid-winter holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in excitement. Hopes and goals for a fabulous holiday, replete with sumptuous foods, elegant and yet inviting home décor, and the right clothes for every occasion — we all get sucked in to one degree or another. For many people, however, the holidays cause significant stress, be it financial, familial or emotional. What do you do when your reality just can’t compete with your expectations?

You may be asking yourself, “Why can’t I just lighten up and enjoy the holidays?” It’s easy to layer on feelings of guilt, as if your emotions are the problem. Instead of falling into the guilt trap, let’s take a look at some good reasons why disappointment and sadness tend to bubble up during the holidays.

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What can you do to protect your sobriety, your mood and your finances during this stressful time of year? Here are a number of steps you can take to navigate the emotional challenges of the holidays:

Rather than putting pressure on yourself to be “perfect” during the holidays, experiment with feeling grateful for the good moments. Good feelings tend to be contagious and fertile – hopefully they will grow from practices into traditions that you and your family can enjoy this holiday season and many more.

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