By Autumn McGowan
Web Content Contributor
It’s that time of year when we have no shortage of celebrations, whether it be Christmas, Kwanzaa, Rohatsu, Feast Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, Hanukkah, Solstice or New Year’s. For some, the holidays can be a peaceful and comforting time filled with laughter, family bonding and much-needed relaxation. For others, though, the holidays can be difficult.
Holidays can trigger eating disorders. They can mean leaving the safe space that is school and spending time with a family that doesn’t quite get you or maybe having no place to return to at all. It can mean taking on the emotional burden of being expected to be your family therapist or dealing with family that has no boundaries. It could be your first holiday season without a loved one. Financial burden, food insecurity, grief…the list goes on and on.
This time of year is just tough. If you find yourself dreading the upcoming block of holidays, you’re not alone. I’m adopting the points in the list below as my personal guide for this holiday season, and maybe you’ll find something helpful in them for you too.
Create New Holiday Traditions
For any of the reasons listed above or for any reason at all, you may choose to spend the holidays alone or with a close group of friends. The benefit of doing this is that you can create new holiday traditions.
Creating new holiday traditions with your chosen family or even by yourself can be a good way to reclaim your holiday season. The great thing about doing this is that there are no rules. You can make them whatever you want. Want to drive out into nature and celebrate by camping? You can do that. Want to stay at home and watch Hallmark movies and eat ice cream? That is also an option. Volunteering at a food bank is also an amazing way to spend your holidays if you love acts of service.
Create an experience for yourself that you can repeat every year or make a decision to switch it up every year. The possibilities are endless.
Prioritize Your Mental State
Heads up, you don’t have to put anyone else’s needs above your own ever, and this applies to the holidays too. Whether you’re celebrating by yourself or with your family, create space for yourself. I’m a big fan of saying no. Say no to things you don’t want to do. Don’t go broke trying to express your love for everyone, and don’t put it on yourself to make someone’s holiday special if it negatively affects your mental health.
Check-in with yourself often, and remember that you’re not obligated to answer questions from extended or close family if you don’t want to. If you’re stuck in a situation that feels overwhelming, take a walk if possible and spend a little time with you.
Feel Your Feelings
This is an obvious one, right? Not always. The holidays can bring an added pressure to be “cheery and bright,” but you don’t have to be. There are countless reasons to be sad around the holidays, and every one of them is valid. Take this as your reminder: you don’t have to be fake happy for the benefit of anyone.
If you know this holiday season is going to be especially hard, reach out to a trusted friend and ask for the support that you need.
If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, check here for a list of resources.
Featured Image by Autumn McGowan
Olivia on December 1, 2021
Thank you for sharing!
Madeleine on December 1, 2021
Great reminders, thank you!!