For many, the holiday period is a wonderful time of year. Snowy days filled with family. All manner of foodstuffs to consume. (Pro tip: Let the guilt from extreme sugar intake wait until the New Year!)
For others, though, the holidays can add an extra layer of stress to an otherwise already-hectic life. Whenever families and friends get together, any number of disasters can occur—and I’m not just talking about burning the gravy. As a Colorado criminal defense attorney, I see lots of legal issues arise from the additional stress brought on by the holidays. From domestic violence cases and spouses snapping to the inebriated coworker getting a post-holiday party DUI, criminal consequences are all too common.
Prevention is the key to avoiding legal disaster (just like a careful eye and frequent stirring could have saved that gravy), and self-care is important this time of year, too. In an effort to prevent the 3 a.m. call to the only lawyer you actually know, let’s see if my friendly legal advice can help do the trick.
And hey, the legal advice is free because Happy Holidays!
Take Time for You During the Holiday Rush
Don’t let yourself get so busy that you lose sight of yourself. Take the time to remind yourself why this time of year is important to YOU. Is it family that makes the season special? Is it faith? Is it simply because one year is winding down and you’re excited for the year to come? Whatever the reason, take a pause and focus on that reason for a minute.
Don’t Try to Do Everything for Everyone
Prioritize time and delegate tasks whenever possible. If you can outsource help with things like house cleaning, do it. Your time is much more valuable than the price of a cleaning service (especially given the number of deals offered this time of year through sites like www.groupon.com). Take time for a pedicure or a massage or a drink with the guys. Whatever that one thing is that helps you unwind, do it!
Do Not Self Medicate
Alcohol, anxiety medication, marijuana, sleeping pills … for some people, these things can be difficult to avoid over the holidays, but it’s best for those who suffer from depression to steer clear of these substances. They can intensify feelings of sadness, counteract prescription medications, and even affect the immune system. Drinking to forget, emotional drinking, binge drinking, or other troublesome behaviors can be indicative of a deeper need for help—whether during the holidays or not.
Get Outside and Get Active
Physical activity can help bolster your mood and mitigate stress while also working off the extra calories you may have packed on from holiday party treats. In addition, physical activity can adjust the chemicals in your brain to combat things like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADS). All in all, exercise outside is rarely, if ever, bad for anyone. Even during the sub-Arctic weather Colorado just experienced, it’s still possible to get active inside! Commit to making yourself get up off the couch (I know, easy for me to say).
Create New Traditions
For those separated from family or just going solo this year, take the opportunity to create new traditions. At my house, we have Friendsgiving instead of traveling to see family for Thanksgiving. I know others who volunteer at soup kitchens or homeless shelters in lieu of making the Christmas meal. Still, others celebrate with distant relatives via Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime. Whatever you do, enjoy it!
Do not try to “keep up with the Joneses” (as my mother would say). Handmade, heartfelt gifts given to close family or friends are treasured for years to come. Leverage your natural talents and creativity instead of relying on your checkbook to get you through the holidays. Your credit card bill will thank you later. And in the event a lawyer is needed (you’re asking for a friend, of course), it’s good to have some savings. There is nothing worse than not being able to afford bail, especially because whomever you’re trying to bond out is likely to sit in jail until the courts open again if you can’t put up the bail money.
Remember, though, that not all lawyers cost an arm and a leg. Many of us will work with you in times of need to set up payment plans, reduced-fee arrangements, or barter for services. I do NOT recommend going it alone without an attorney, though.
Roll with the Punches
Life is about change, spontaneity, and adaptation. No matter how well-prepared you are, disasters happen. Flights are delayed. Snowstorms strike. The flu knocks everyone down. Perfect days elude us all, but whatever the situation, keep your chin up and find a way to celebrate what’s most important to YOU! Most importantly, be safe. Don’t give yourself a reason to call your lawyer at 3 a.m. But for those unavoidable pitfalls, it does help to know a good one, too! (Contact me any time at (970.670.0738 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
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