5 Helpful Hints for Holidays
As fun as it can be to host parties, exchange gifts, and engage in spiritual or religious functions this time of year, we all know the winter holiday season also brings added stress. Many people report worsening mental health around this time of year and are reminded of painful memories as they try to celebrate their first annual holiday without a loved one who has passed or a partner who has left. Less daylight means less sunshine and lower Vitamin D levels, as well as worsening seasonal affective disorder for some. Others experience exposure to family dysfunction, which could entail misgendering, violation of boundaries, or downright verbal abuse. But fear not! We are here to provide support through sessions as well as tips and tricks you can use in your holiday season.
1. Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful
As you prepare for festivities, take a moment to notice your emotions and desires. If your body and mind are telling you something does not feel right, it is ok and even important to listen. Respectfully communicate your preferences and needs to others to find compromise. Ex. “I want to really enjoy Christmas this year so I won’t be able to spend 5 hours in the kitchen cooking. I’m open to a potluck or ordering from a restaurant. What are you comfortable with?”
2. Take Care of You!
We may get so busy and wrapped up in activities that we neglect sleep, exercise, or alone time. This can lead to feeling exhausted and lashing out against the ones we love. Try using a planner (physical or electronic) to schedule workouts, rest periods, and quiet time so you maintain balance and get the most out of the season.
3. Be Realistic
Our culture is one of capitalism and consumerism, so the pressure to buy, spend, and give is high. Some of us may go into debt or sacrifice more than we are comfortable with in order to “keep up”. Instead, try making a list of people you want to gift and setting a budget (and stick to it!). Consider talking with family about a gift exchange in which each person brings one gift instead of everyone giving a gift to each individual family member. Focus on quality over quantity!
4. Notice Patterns of Substance Abuse
The holidays often involve gatherings with alcohol, or our loneliness and grief may drive us to numb the pain with substances. Be aware of how alcohol and drugs impact you, your friends, and your family members. If Grandma always seems to have a sharp tongue after three glasses of wine, maybe a sober gathering can help everyone enjoy themselves.
5. Remember it won’t last forever
The holiday season is just that-a season! It can be a time for reflection and merriment and soon enough, we will welcome a new year and move along with life. In the spirit of mindfulness, practice noticing the passing moments non-judgmentally and observe each experience. Worst case scenario, remind yourself that this period of time will soon transition to Springtime, longer daylight hours, and looking forward to new growth and opportunities!