While the holidays are a fun, joyous season for many people, for others, holidays bring about a peak in anxiety and depression.
Strained family relationships, judgement and lack of respect for your opinions and choices, distance to travel, not getting time off work, too many places to divide your time between, the guilt from not being able to visit longer, over commercialized pressure to buy lots of gifts even though finances warrant not spending, dietary choices and restrictions that limit what you can eat at gatherings. All of these and more are things that people face every day but even more so during the holiday season when there is the pressure and obligation of putting yourself in situations you normally avoid to prevent being exposed to these situations.
We personally have experienced everything on this list and while I will spare you (and us) our backstory on every situation, I just want you to know that I see you, I feel for you, and IT’S OK to not love the holidays because of the negativity it brings to the forefront of your life.
I have no shame about being very obviously The Grinch during the holidays (I don’t have shame about much of anything really and especially not when it comes to protecting myself). On the flip side, my husband loves Christmas and twinkly lights SO MUCH that even though he too is affected by lots of the situations I mentioned above, he has always put that aside and is full out Cindy Lou Who during the holidays. If you are able to do that for the entire holiday season, I salute you! If I were to do that, I would have to take off the whole month of January to recuperate. Since that is not an option, I set very rigid boundaries and limit who what when where why how I show up during the holiday season to protect my own health and sanity.
Some things that can help you navigate this holiday season:
- Set rigid boundaries on where you will go, for how long, where you will not go, what you will and will not do.
- Talk to your spouse to make a game plan (and a code word for when it’s time to GTFO and go home).
- Bring your own side dish so you know you have at least one thing to eat that aligns with your dietary choices and restrictions.
- Be upfront about gifts, whether they will be exchanged or not, how many, what price limit, things vs experiences vs gift certificates.
Making these expectations clear from the beginning will save a lot of stress when it comes down to task. Don’t ever feel guilty or ashamed (or be made to feel this way by others) for setting these boundaries and putting your foot down on what you will allow during the holidays or any time during the year. Do what you need to do to keep yourself whole so that you are able to show up for the people who value and respect you for setting those boundaries. As the great Erin from Cotton Stem says, YOU DO YOU!
If you would like to share, what are some of the things you do to survive the holiday season?