NASHVILLE, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Getting together with extended family during the holidays can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be, a U.S. professor of psychiatry said.
Dr. Keith G. Meador of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville says holidays bring out yearning and hope, but also excessive expectations that everything is going to be perfect, or feelings of regret that things aren't like they used to be, or that things have never been the way you want them.
"It should be a season of anticipatory hope, rather than expectations of illusionary perfection," Meador said in a statement.
"There's an illusion during the holidays that everybody else is happy, everybody else is having this glorious time, and many people wonder why their lives aren't. This time of the year particularly challenges what I think can be very constructive -- negotiating the inevitable disappointments of life," Meador said.
"Figuring out how to cope with disappointment isn't all bad. There's some hope within that," Meador added.
Stopping daily activities to spend time with families can bring out feelings and issues that often go unspoken during the day-to-day activities of life, Meador said.
"So unless we've thought about these issues, or have a place to talk about them with others, we may find ourselves particularly vulnerable to depression," Meador said. "Try being honest with one another with gratitude for the gifts of love and friendship we bring to the table, and not faulting each other for our inevitable imperfections."
Be grateful for what you have, instead of grasping for what you don't have, Meador said.