Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays
If your holidays don’t look like a perfectly wrapped Hallmark movie, you’re not alone!
The holiday season brings many stressors and pressures, expectations, and difficult reminders.
Here’s why the holidays are hard
If you find yourself struggling with unwelcome guests, like stress, anxiety or depression around the holidays, it might be because [of]:
- Your expectations and reality are misaligned
- Family conflict
- Excessive commitments
- Overwhelming demands
- Financial pressure
- Changes to typical routine and/or traditions
- Anniversaries you wish you could forget
Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season
Our team has curated a list of tips for taking care of yourself this holiday season
Here are some helpful tips to ease that holiday stress:
Acknowledge your feelings.
Remember, it’s okay to take a step back, cry and express your feelings. In fact, allowing yourself the space to do so (without berating yourself for having feelings) will increase the likelihood that the emotion will subside.
Fun fact: our emotions last about 90 seconds, if the emotion is lingering beyond that, give it your attention.
Reach out and connect.
The holidays can be isolating for many of us, so now is the time to lean on your support system. It might be helpful to talk to a friend or family member about your concerns. You can also try seeking out social events or online communities, as many have virtual support groups, activities, etc.
If you’re aware that the holidays are a difficult time for you, plan ahead! Set aside specific days and times to connect with yourself and loved ones, shop, bake, rest, etc. It will also be helpful to write down a list of your go-to coping skills, so you have easy access to them when you might need to ease those heightened emotions.
The reality is that most families are far from picture perfect. The holidays don’t have to be perfect, or ‘just like last year’. Expecting them to be sets you up for disappointment and brings awareness to what your family or life is not. Remember also that as friends and families change and grow, so do expectations and traditions – it’s only natural! Allow yourself to grieve the old and welcome the new.
Set a budget.
Before you start holiday shopping, it might be helpful to set a spending budget to reduce potential financial concerns. Challenge the belief that happy holidays require excessive spending. Try giving a homemade gift, or doing a gift exchange with your loved ones.
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries!
Energize yourself by setting boundaries with how many people you see and activities you do that are prone to deplete you. Learn to say ‘no’ an delegate tasks to others (these get easier with practice)!
Take a breather.
Make time for yourself and create space for breaks and doing activities that you enjoy.
Some ideas may include:
- Spending time in nature
- Writing out your thoughts
- Going on a walk
- Reading a book
- Listening to soothing music
- Watching a comfort show/movie
- Curling up with a cozy blanket and a cup of hot cocoa/tea/coffee
Take steps to manage, or even prevent, the stress and depression that can come on during the holiday season. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as excessive commitments or financial pressure, so you can tackle them before they take over. Re-examine your expectations, and remember that you’re not alone – holidays are painful for many of us.
Written by Lauren Urie, A Registered Social Worker and New Moon Psychotherapy’s Intake Coordinator.