The holiday season has crept up on me so fast this year, as I’m sure it has for you. I feel like I woke up one day and all of a sudden summer was truly upon us. Christmas music has started following me everywhere, and the looming pressure of gifts to be purchased and plans to be made, follows me everywhere.
While there can be a lightness and fond nostalgia that accompanies the Christmas season, for many, the opposite is true. Christmas can bring back acute feelings of fear or loneliness. Memories that stay comfortably buried in the busyness of our day-to-day lives are suddenly very present and unavoidable. Watching movies about the Christmas spirit and seeing families spending jovial, peaceful time together can bring more bitterness than it does festivity. So, when the holiday season brings you more nervous apprehension than gleeful anticipation, what can be done?
I wish I could tell you that every situation with the possibility of a negative outcome could be avoided. I wish I could jump through this webpage and throw you all the happiest, merriest Christmas that you all deserve. I’m sure everyone on the VoH team wishes the very same. Unfortunately, we can’t do this, but can I tell you a secret?
You (yes, you!) have everything necessary within you, to not only survive but thrive this Christmas. The world may still be moving at a rapid rate, your family may still be challenging, your worries and fears may still be very present, but you can be your own calm within the storm. I have compiled a list for you. A list that encapsulates everything that is within your power to change during the holidays. I call it the:
Ten Days of Mental Health-mas
Take it ONE day at a time
Each day will have enough worries of its own. Planning ahead is wise, but give yourself grace and space this silly season to figure things out day by day.
Be careful what you say yes TWO
Not every Christmas function needs to be attended. If you’re invited to an event a great line to say is, ‘Thank you for the invite, let me have a look at my schedule and get back to you!’ Having something like this scripted means you’re less likely to say yes to too many things.
Count to THREE
Whether they be family, co-workers or friends of friends, when hurtful, unnecessary or inappropriate comments are made to you, count to three before responding. Not only does this make the other person second guess what they have said, but it also means you have a smaller chance of saying something you might later regret.
Be there FOUR each other
The biggest lie you will ever be told is that you are going through this all alone. The holidays are often when people feel the loneliest, saddest, angriest, etc. Let’s normalise conversations with trusted friends this Christmas about how each other is really doing.
Give yourself a high FIVE
You woke up this morning. Did you know that is amazing? Maybe the people around you don’t understand how hard the small tasks are for you at the moment, but that’s okay! You can be your biggest supporter. You woke up this morning, give yourself a high five.
Do SIX new things
Now, before you freak out, I am not suggesting you learn six new languages or six forms of martial arts before the end of December. However, our brains do thrive on new things. Try that new bakery that just opened up near your work. Try saying good morning to the person you sit next to on the bus. Try a new type of coffee. Variety is the Christmas spice of life.
Spend SEVEN minutes processing
Put your phone down, turn the TV off, tune out the monotonous noise that surrounds you. Carve out some time to process each day - the highs and lows. So much happens each day, don’t let that clog up your brain. Instead, get it out of your head by writing it down or recording yourself speaking.
EIGHT what you want
To clarify, eat what you want, people! There will always be someone who doesn’t like how, when, or why you are eating. You do not, nor will you ever, owe them an explanation. Eat until you are satisfied.
Dress to the NINEs
Again, before you freak out, I am not saying you must dress for the races every day this month. Instead, pick one event that you want to look your best for and give yourself the time, space, and energy to dress up for it. Take the time to care for your body, treat it the way it deserves, and thank it for all it does for you every day.
Don’t preTENd you’re perfect
Even as I write this list, I know I won’t be able to keep every single thing on here. Don’t let this be another pole to measure yourself against to prove you’re good enough. You are already good enough! You won’t always get it right, there will be hard times this season and in all the seasons to come. You can get through it! You won’t be perfect, no one is, but you will be you. Isn’t that amazing?
Merry, Merry Christmas, beautiful people.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to 'find help' - it's not weak to speak!