• Be flexible about the holiday and how you celebrate it. Experience the reason for the holiday. It doesn't have to be at the same time/day it always has been. After all, is it about the specific day or the feeling?
• Be willing to give others space. You can't expect others to give you something that you won't give them.
• Have a signal to your significant other or someone else in whom you can confide. They will help you get a breather or get some space of your own.
• Give yourself the freedom to seek private time. Maybe a walk after dinner, or a nap or some time to read a book. Take the time when you need it.
One major concern during the season of traditions and expectations is how to move on after a family member has died. Dr. Clayman recommends "to re-frame the holiday," make new traditions and be flexible about how you celebrate the holiday. "It isn't about the day on the calendar. It's about the relationships and time spent together."
For example, if one family member's house was the gathering spot, change the venue, or if certain recipes were prepared by the deceased family member, revise the menu. "Don't grieve about what or who you're missing," Clayman urged. "Celebrate the memories you have and new ones that you're making."
These tips also come in handy for blended families: "Flexibility, focusing on the positive, and not trying to do too much at once."
Clayman offered these four phrases for keeping calm and enjoying the holiday season.
• Don't over plan.
• Don't force it.
• Look for the good.
• Find humor in it.
David Clayman, Ph.D., is a psychologist, legal psychological services consultant, and the director of Clayman & Associates. For more information, visit www.claymanassociates.com.
Jen Wood Cunningham works in personal and professional development and loves classic style. Get tips and trends by following @WVstyleteam on Twitter. More tips and insights are available on the Style Team blog, www.wvstyleteam.com.