23 Dec Handling the Holidays
Contrary to media advertisements and societal expectations, not everyone looks forward to the holiday season. There are many reasons why this time of year may be particularly challenging for someone, and if the holidays are a difficult time for you there are things that can be done to help you cope with this season. I know you may find yourself wishing you could snap your fingers and it would magically be January 2nd. While I cannot give you that talent, I can offer some strategies for getting through with both mind and heart in tact.
1. Plan ahead. Make lists, put events on the calendar, have escape plans and communicate them with trusted people to ensure you can enact them if needed.
2. Since you cannot skip the holidays, face them squarely. Only say yes to plans that you know you can do and that make you comfortable.
3. Focus on this holiday first. Don’t look forward to all the holidays to come. Adding pressure to this holiday by worrying about the other special days ahead is stress you do not need.
4. Take care of yourself. Holidays usually mean extra fatigue, drinking, partying and visiting. By making yourself a priority you will partake in festivities that you have the energy for and let the other activities wait for another year.
5. Maybe this is the first year without a loved one. Think about ways to honour the memory of this person during the holiday. Whether it is beginning a new tradition or carrying on an old one, make your loved one a part of your celebration.
6. Give yourself permission to experience whatever emotions this holiday season brings for you. Holding in your emotions or harshly criticizing yourself may be destructive to your sense of wellbeing.
7. It may be helpful to set limits. Let others know what you need and how they can best help you. Don’t allow yourself to be forced into doing something because someone else thinks that you should.
8. Discuss your holiday plans with caring people in your life. Decide what to keep, what to change and what to discard. Make your goals small. Don’t over commit yourself. Take it slow and easy.
9. Carve out time to recharge, whether it is with a walk in nature, snuggling with a furry friend or reading a good book. Appreciate that the hustle and bustle can be draining and giving back to yourself can ensure that you have the energy to engage with others when you want to.
Melissa Reid, MSW, RSW