The holiday season is upon us, and it’s a very stressful time for many people. If you are dealing with mental health issues, addictions, social anxiety, lack of money, or any other challenge, it can be the most testing time ever.
I want you to remember that, regardless of your situation, you are enough. You do not need to show up to impress people, you do not need to prove yourself, nor do you need to change for others. It’s ok to be yourself.
Here are 9 tips for keeping your wits about you over the coming weeks:
Take time for yourself: even if you are in a house full of people, it’s ok to go into a room and take a few moments, or go for a walk. Exercise is a great way to clear your head, and it’s ok to say, I need a few moments, I need to go for a walk.
It’s ok to not participate in everything. You don’t have to play every card game, sing every song and eat every dessert. You can pass respectfully, and if others aren’t happy about it, that’s their burden to bear, not yours.
Saying no to triggers that affect you is not being disrespectful, nor are you obligated to tell everyone why you said no. A gentle no, thanks, is good enough. If people are asking why, and you are comfortable to answer, that’s up to you. It’s also up to you if you prefer to say it’s personal, or change the subject.
If you are worried your gifts will not “be enough”, remember that it’s YOU that everyone is wanting to see, and not what you can buy them. If you can’t afford a lot, don’t go into debt trying to impress people. Let them be disappointed if they are so shallow, but you will know in January when you do not have a credit card bill that you have done the right thing. Live within your means, and give accordingly.
Do you bring your pets with you to the family events? I usually bring my dogs with me to Christmas dinner, instead of leaving them home for hours, but I know they need an extra eye: they can get socially worn down as well. I watch for children playing (roughly or teasing), I keep an eye on how much food is shared with them, and I keep them on a leash if there’s someone who isn’t overly comfortable with my dogs roaming the home.
Sometimes they need a time out like a walk, or to sit in a room alone with me for a few moments to just relax. It’s an exciting time when there’s tens of people (or more) and the smells are new and it’s overwhelming. Know your pets: it’s better to have them in a room alone than with everyone else if your pets cannot safely handle the excitement.
If you have children, much of the same applies! Children can get worn out, have social anxiety, forget their manners, or seem like someone has swapped out your caring, calm child for a hyperactive maniac. This happens to all of us. Call time out for your kids every now and again, and a nap for them (and you) might help deal with the hustle and bustle. Give them a spot that, if they are feeling overwhelmed, they can go sit without any questions asked, and just take a moment.
Eat proper meals, and choose your food wisely. If you feast on cookies and sweets all day, your sugars will be higher than normal, and that can cause fatigue, irritability and more. Be sure to eat actual food (fruits and vegetables, meats and other normal dietary choices) to reduce sugar highs and lows.
Do you have a drinking contingency plan? If you are hosting the party, or a guest at the party, be aware of those (including yourself) who are drinking more than a glass or two. Make sure there’s a cab company or designated driver who will ensure that there are no drunk drivers on the road. Also, make sure those who imbibe in the alcohol are eating as well. It’s never any fun when the drunkenness gets out of hand and words are said that would normally not be.
If you are not a drinker, or abstaining, have a plan. Are you planning to bring something non-alcoholic to drink? What about drinking glasses? Are you triggered by a wine glass? Should you bring your own?
Life on a daily basis is hard enough, especially when you are dealing with mental health, addictions, mood disorders, physical ailments and so much more. I wanted to remind you that throughout the holidays, YOU ARE ENOUGH, and be strong. It’s other people’s cross to bear if they have a problem with how you are keeping yourself healthy.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.
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