What do the holidays mean to YOU?
It is that time of year again. The temperature has fallen in many parts of the country, days are shorter, evenings are darker, mornings are colder, and the holidays will soon be here.
What do the holidays mean to you? For many, it is a happy time of year, with memories that last a lifetime filled with good food, presents, and rituals that get passed down from generation to generation. Decorations come out of their boxes and cover homes with holiday cheer, people celebrate at work (if they are back in the office), home, with friends and family. What’s not to like about loads of food, drinks and the feeling of being surrounded by the people you love most?
If the paragraph above describes you that’s great, and if it does not, that is ok too. For some people the holidays are stressful and are associated with increased feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, loss and shame.
Have you lost a loved one recently? Are you going through a separation or divorce? Still struggling to adjust to the “new normal” pseudo post-pandemic life? Do you live far away from beloved family members? Is it just too expensive or stressful to think about traveling right now for whatever the reason with all you have on your plate? Are you unsure how you are going to be able to afford all of the demands society and your children are asking of you? Are you feeling generally overwhelmed? Whatever your situation is, I can only imagine how hard it must be for you. There are so many demands that feel so impossible to keep up with, and there is only one of you to go around.
“Simple and successful is better than overwhelming and painful”
– Dr. Jerry Yager, PhD
Here are eight tips to support you through this holiday season (PLUS a printable!):
- Keep up with your daily routine as much as possible – Try to continue to get proper rest, eat as well as you can (while giving yourself permission to indulge without feeling shame or guilt), and exercise as you were previously. Don’t wait until New Years day to restart, today is the day to begin. Take charge now tip: Pick one part of your daily routine that is most important to you, make this one your priority.
- Don’t overcommit – You need you, your family needs you, and it has been a difficult year. Think about what commitments are most important to you, and let the ones that you feel you ‘should’ attend slide. Take charge now tip: What is one commitment you can decline right now? Take care of you first.
- Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you may be feeling. Your feelings are valid, and it is important to experience whatever it is that is coming up for you at this time (crying is ok too!). Many people can fill up their schedule and keep so busy to avoid feeling the most painful emotions. Take charge now tip: Take 5 minutes of quiet time daily for you to process where you are at, and reconnect with yourself.
- Plan ahead – Unpredictability can often generate anxiety, so knowing what to expect can help alleviate some of those symptoms. Take charge now tip: Write down 3 things you know you can expect this upcoming holiday weekend.
- Know yourself and your stress tolerance – Know your limits so you don’t push yourself to accomplish more than you can manage. Take charge now tip: What are your biggest triggers? The more you know what they are, the better prepared you’ll be to battle them when they arise.
- Stay connected – Stay connected to the people that matter most in your life, whether it be friends, family members, children, etc. because you mean more to them than you could ever know. Take charge now tip: Write down who the 3 most important people in your life are. Keep them a priority and let others know (if you don’t thats ok too) you’ll reconnect with them after the holidays.
- Be prepared to be extra kind to yourself – Many turn to alcohol, overeating or other coping behaviors that can end up being more harmful than helpful. How will you be kind to yourself this holiday season? This can be as simple as taking an extra long shower, taking a minute for yourself or taking some extra slow and deep breaths. Take charge now tip: What is something you can do to take better physical, emotional or spiritual care of yourself today?
- Change what the holidays mean – Create new rituals and new memories that can lead to lasting positive associations this time of year. Take charge now tip: is there something you have always wanted to do around this time of year? Why not make this year a first and put it into action, while of course, keeping it simple.
Alex Marin MSW, LCSW is a child and family therapist with over a decade of experience, a proud mom of two beautiful babies, and a real person just like you! Sign up HERE for wellness inspiration for a happy (and healthy) mind, body, and family delivered straight to your inbox.
Yager, D. B., & Indart, D. (n.d.). Trauma and the Holidays. Lecture presented at Mile High United Way in Colorado, Denver.
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