Dreading the holidays? Don’t let stress and depression consume your holiday season. Read on for tips to help you remain optimistic this season and turn your holiday dread into peace and fulfillment.
For some of us the holidays can be a peaceful and comforting time filled with laughter, family bonding, and relaxation. But for the rest of us, the holidays can be a challenging time. Between mental health triggers, stress, having to leave your safe space, spending time with family that doesn’t get you, being the family therapist or having no place to turn to at all –the holidays can be a difficult time. We get it. Our holiday spirit is with you and we have five ideas to help you keep it that way!
Create Your Own Traditions Try spending your holidays with those that bring the joy out of you, even if that means being alone or with a friend group. Sometimes our families aren’t our safe space, and it’s okay to spend the “most wonderful time of the year” with people you actually think are wonderful. Create new traditions with your chosen family to help you reclaim the season’s meaning. There are no rules and you get to make it what you want. You can choose to create an experience you want to repeat each year or choose to switch it up.
Whatever you do, try to be realistic and not expect to have the “perfect” holiday or you’ll be disappointed when it falls short. Think about what you want to get out of the holidays so that you can be more intentional about who you spend time with and how you spend that time. A meaningful holiday starts when you decide what will give it meaning for you.
Prioritize Your Mental Health Make space for yourself by saying no to everything you don’t want to do. It is not on you to make someone’s holiday special if it affects your mental state. Saying yes when you shouldn’t will only leave you feeling resentful of others and overwhelmed. If you can’t participate in every activity and outing, the people who love you will understand. Remember it’s a marathon not a sprint —pace yourself. Don’t compromise your wellbeing by doing too much or overcommitting. You can’t do everything for everyone.
You’re also not obligated to answer invasive or difficult questions if you don’t want to. If you find yourself cornered in an overwhelming situation, excuse yourself and take a walk. Spend time checking in with yourself to clear your mind and restore your inner calm. Remember it’s your holiday too and you can be there for yourself the same way you try to be for everyone else.
Acknowledge Your Feelings There are many reasons to dread this time of year and each one of them is valid. You don’t have to pretend to be happy for anyone else. Whether it’s your first holiday without a loved one, financial burdens/pressures are building up, or whatever the reason you’re feeling negative emotions, know that it’s okay. Learn to recognize the triggers that can lead you to spiral into a meltdown, so that you can take action before holiday fatigue & depression take you under.
Volunteer or Give Back Thinking of others this time of year can be a good way to lift your own spirits and broaden your bond with the community or your loved ones. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen, passing out coats/blankets within the community, or even dropping a nice meal at a friend’s home. Making a plan to spend your season giving back to those most in need can give you something to look forward to and help you feel more in control of your holiday.
Stick to Your Budget Don’t go broke trying to show your love. Before hitting the stores and sales, decide how much you actually can afford to spend and then stick to it. Try donating to charity in your loved one’s name, giving a homemade gift, or initiating a family/friend gift exchange to lessen the gift-giving burden (don’t forget to suggest a spending limit so everyone can participate).
Our media culture can place undue stress on us to spend more than we wanted to. Consumerism is rampant and we’ve all felt the pressure to spend more during the holidays. Consider adjusting how much time you spend consuming the news and on social media to reduce unnecessary stress.
Even if the holidays have become something that you dread, they don’t have to stay that way. You can choose to take steps to prevent the negative feelings that can consume the holidays. Make a plan, get creative, and do things that keep you optimistic so that you can find some peace and joy this holiday.
We want to hear from you!
What are you doing this holiday season to maintain your inner calm? Comment below!
In a world full of chaos, you either find a way or create your own.