Holiday Blues—Put Your Mental Health First This Christmas
The holidays are usually viewed as a time of happiness and rejoicing. But for some people, it can be a period of painful reflection, loneliness and anxiety. Here’s what you can do to ease the pain.
December is Ashita’s favourite month. Not because of the angelic snowfall that blankets her entire hometown during winter, but because she loves the spirit of Christmas. After not seeing her parents for a whole year due to lockdown regulations, she is finally visiting them this time around. The only problem? She’s not sure if her family members will be able to respect the self-care boundaries she has discovered after a whole year of working on her mental health.
For most of us, the holidays are a roller coaster of different emotions—at turns filled with joy and companionship, while sometimes it can be less than desirable. For every thing we love about the holidays, there is something that seems to cancel it out. For every neatly packed present, there is an annoying relative. For every warm hug, there are travel-related hassles. And let’s not forget about the elephant in the room—the Omicron variant that has been proven to be more than just a buzz kill. For as much as we advise against toxic positivity, there are times when one simply must stay optimistic. And the period leading from Christmas to New Year is exactly one of those times. This holiday season, make it the year that you not only survive the holidays, but the one in which you thrive. This guide will show you how.
Learn how to manage your time
It's the most wonderful time of the year, right? Well only if you know how to plan your schedule well in advance. Otherwise it’s a whole lot of running around and no one gets to have fun. Hallmark greeting cards depict the holiday season like a utopia, but in reality you still need to complete everyday chores, along with worrying about guests, relatives and what not. And on top of that, work often gets more hectic as end-of-the-year deadlines approach. As boring as it may sound, creating a to-do list (and sticking to it) can take a lot of pressure off your shoulders.
Get into easy entertainment
Many of us plan to entertain extravagantly during the holidays, but with the current state of affairs, it’s best to keep things low-key. Even though the new Omicron variant is cancelling plans all around the world, most people are still traveling and getting together; well at least more than they did last year. You might feel the need to outdo yourself after staying dormant for a whole calendar year, but take our advice and tone things down a notch. If you can learn to stop worrying about what other people are thinking of your party, that’s when you’ll actually start having fun.
Buy thoughtful gifts but don’t expect anything in return
Gifts are a prominent part of the holiday season but when left unchecked, spending can spiral out of control, leaving you both mentally and financially stressed. To reign in costs, we suggest you build a suitable budget and stick to it. Instead of buying trendy new things, get your loved ones something they will actually cherish. A jar of handmade marmalade might mean more than a new pair of shoes. Similarly, you should not expect lavish gifts from your family and friends—that will only set you up for disappointment and sour your mood.
Try to look past the negativity
Holidays can be a difficult time, and instead of feeling merry, many people feel hopelessly blue. These negative feelings may arise because of a variety of reasons and toxic family members usually come at the top of the list. But remember that you can’t force anyone to be nice to you. If critical relatives make hurtful comments about your appearance or food choices, try to redirect the conversation to something else. And, if someone won't take the hint, simply walk out for some fresh air.
But don’t let anyone disrespect your boundaries
If you have a history of dealing with toxic family members and relatives, you’re probably already used to ignoring the small stuff. But sometimes, things can get a little heavy. And if you find yourself in a situation like that, you don’t have to back into a corner and let the bullies win just because you respect them. Remember that it’s okay to stand up for yourself and call people out for their foul behaviour. If someone doesn’t respect your appearance, lifestyle, or sexuality—you always have the option of leaving the gathering. The greatest gift you can give this holiday season is one of kindness, sensitivity and respect—to yourself.
Related Story: What are Healthy Boundaries and Why do we Need Them
Remember that it’s okay to be alone
While some people struggle because of crowded rooms, others are desperately craving for companionship. There are many reasons that can trigger feelings of sadness around this time of the year—the recent loss of a loved one, a breakup, a divorce or simply coping with being alone. You might be well equipped with staying by yourself all year long, but something about the holiday season can still manage to evoke feelings of anxiety and depression—and that’s completely normal. If things are getting heavier than usual, then don’t shy away from seeing a therapist. The end of the year is a time of reflection—both on the past year and the one that’s coming forward. Use this opportunity to indulge in some much needed self-care. Take some time off work and do the things that genuinely make you happy.
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