If you’re anything like me, the holiday season will bring you more anxiety than any other time of year. For many people, it is their favourite time of year, but for us, it is the time of year we dread the most. It’s filled with expectations, socialisation, financial pressure and much more. It has been fogging my brain for months on end and it feels like there is no escape from it.
However, I am here to tell you we can make it through. Here are a few strategies that might make this time of year more manageable.
Take breaks from socialising as often as you need. Before you need a break, choose a place where you can go to do deep breathing, use the 5-4-3-2-1 tool, butterfly tapping, or whatever helps you regulate. Spend 5-10 minutes there and then rejoin the group. The people who care about you won’t mind - they are glad you are there with them.
I have found that setting clear boundaries with people helps my mental well-being. If there are some people that you feel pressured to see, set a boundary with them. If your mental health is going to be hindered by their presence, you do not have to see them. If this isn’t possible, have a safe person in the group who you can confide in.
For some, buying lots of gifts isn’t possible. You don’t need to feel guilty about this. The people around you will be blessed by your friendship and understand your situation. What I do for people in my life is make homemade gifts. I use my skills and the little money I have to make gifts that are just as valuable, if not more. Things like paintings, a box of things I love about them, photos/a scrapbook of my favourite memories with them or making them their favourite meal. Whether you buy or make them anything or not, they will love you just the same.
If you spend the holidays on your own, think of one activity you can do that will bring you some joy. Whether that be walking to your favourite location, baking a delicious treat, or watching your favourite festive film. You deserve to feel joy and peace during this time.
You might have lost someone and this time of year makes you miss them more. If this is the case, I encourage you to write down your favourite things about them and share it with someone who loved them as much as you do. What helps me, is to write them a letter, expressing my feelings towards them and updating them on my life.
Whatever the holidays evoke for you, you can get through it. You have before and will again. I hope you can enjoy at least one thing this season and if not, I will be proud of you for still being here at the end of it. You are brave.
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!