Tips for Navigating the Holiday Season
I think Charles Dickens (1921), inadvertently, best summarized the holiday season for many people when he wrote “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...” Society has painted the expectation that late October through the first of January should be a time of happiness, joy, and celebration…but what if it’s not? What if we have a family that brings stress instead of happiness? What if we cannot afford or cannot find that limited edition must-have Christmas present for our kids? *tracking location= somewhere in the middle of the ocean* What if the holidays bring up memories of our loved ones who have passed on before us? Or what if we are just plain exhausted by the stress of our daily lives?
Very few people openly talk about the added pressure to be happy and have everything together during the holiday season. This silence can make you feel as if you are the only one… well I am here to tell you that you are not the only one feeling the intense pressure to achieve that picture-perfect holiday season! Here are some tips, beyond your normal coping skills, to help you make it through this holiday season:
- Make a list, in order of importance, of things you need to do this holiday season. Remove one, two, or even a few things off your list that will take some of the pressure off. And no, you really do not need to buy a gift for all your friends.
- Discuss with your significant other or family members your expectations for this year. Having tough conversations about where, when, and how much money you will spend this season ahead of time can reduce those last minute stress-induced fights.
- Set a budget for holiday spending. Our society has built this false narrative that gifts are how you should show love and appreciation during the holiday season. The material items you give will eventually fade from your family members’ memory, but the love and experiences shared will last a lifetime.
- Start new traditions. Sometimes we can get stuck in the mindset that we have to do the holiday season the same way every year. Let’s change it up and start a tradition that is fun or relaxing instead of stressful.
- Limit your social media scroll. We all know that Instagram mom really did not cook a four course healthy meal, set the picture-perfect table, and get her five kids dressed and ready all by herself. Nor did she just happen to get all of her kids to pose perfectly for a picture– she totally bribed them and they most likely did not eat that “healthy” meal she made either.
- Prioritize your physical and mental health. There is no shame in saying “no” to things that deteriorate our physical and mental health. On the other hand, try saying “yes” to more things that promote health and wellness such as maintaining your self-care routine.
- Ask for help. Ask for help, whether that is from your support system or from a mental health professional. Reaching out for help is one of the strongest and bravest things a person can do.
Navigating the holidays can be challenging, but just remember to give yourself and others grace during these next few months.
Dickens, C. & Dunn, H. (1921) A Tale of Two Cities. Cosmopolitan Book Corporation.