The winter holiday season can be an opportunity for celebration, cheer, and togetherness with family and friends. However, it is also a time where difficult emotions and increased stress can arise. Here are six tips to help you tend to your emotional wellbeing during the holiday season.
Keep up your usual ways of de-stressing
If the holidays involve a lot of demands for you like shopping, get togethers, and traveling, it’s easy for healthy habits to fall to the side. Making a point of sticking to at least some of your typical routines and activities that help you feel joyful and relaxed can help you feel like your usual self.
Take the extra time to make sure you do your meditation practice, even if you get to that holiday party late. Stuff a travel exercise mat in your suitcase if you’re going to visit relatives, so you can create some space for your workouts.
Be open to change
There can be a pressure during this season to recreate that perfect, idealized holiday experience you had years ago - but setting the expectation that this holiday will be exactly like the past is unrealistic. Particularly since the emergence of the pandemic, the truth is we can’t attend that holiday concert that we loved anymore, that favorite bakery may have closed down, and perhaps loved ones we’ve traditionally spent holidays with are unable to join us or even have passed away.
While memories of the way things were may be bittersweet, you may find that by being open to having a different holiday experience this year, you can experience other joyful things and start new traditions.
Think about what YOU want from this time
You might feel a lot of demands on your time during the holiday season - people you should visit, work celebrations you should attend. Trying to do it all may result in spreading yourself so thin over many events that you don’t enjoy any of them.
Be clear on what time you have available for celebrating and socializing during the season, and choose the events that are most meaningful to you. Your high school acquaintance probably isn’t even going to notice you didn’t end up stopping by his holiday party, and you’ll be happy you took a walk with your siblings through your favorite holiday market instead.
Advertising suggests the idea to us that the only way to enjoy the holidays is spending, spending, and overspending. If you look around and see friends and family opting for purchases above what you can afford, you might feel like you need to keep up with them.
Indulging a bit to celebrate is one thing, but making financial decisions that you’ll find yourself really regretting in January won’t have you feeling very joyful. Before the season is in full swing, think critically about what is and isn’t affordable for you this year, so you can be prepared to make the choices that feel right to you.
Accept people the way they are
If your holiday season involves reconvening with many relatives or old friends, there may be a few characters that get under your skin. You might get annoyed about how intense your best friend gets about having her holiday decor just so, or exhausted by your grandparents’ annual litany of invasive questions, or fed up with the shouting match your uncles inevitably get into at the end of dinner.
Thinking realistically, it’s very unlikely that anyone is going to let go of long standing habits this holiday season. Let your best friend stress out about finding the right holiday napkins, knowing she’ll be back to her usual self in a few weeks time.
Set boundaries with your grandparents and enjoy having a conversation with them on topics where you’re comfortable.
When you see family drama going down yet again, remember you don’t have to participate in it - leave the room and find something else to do with your time if needed.
Acknowledge your feelings and get support
If you’re feeling sad, overwhelmed, angry, or anxious, you don’t need to put on a brave face just because it’s the holidays. Reach out to the people who support you - it’s possible you’ll even find that some of them are feeling the same way.
If the holidays are bringing you to confront some difficult emotions, therapy might be a useful step for additional support. If you think it’s time to give therapy a try, click the button below to book a free phone consultation - I’d be happy to discuss more how therapy might be helpful for you right now.