As much as the media and retailers try to get us into the “holiday spirit” - what’s not often talked about is the other side of the holidays. For those who deal with tough family dynamics or have had a loss or those who don’t have an immediate family to go home to on the holidays - this time of year can be especially difficult.
For the month of December I’ve had the pleasure to speak with Cassandre Dunbar as a guest on her podcast, “Be Well, Sis.” In part one of the holiday mini series, we focused on navigating the holidays despite a hard family situation.
Here are my key takeaways from our discussion. My hope is that this will help you or someone close to you.
Identify and name the feelings you are experiencing
Whether it’s frustration, anger, or sadness. Putting a name to those feelings and telling yourself that it’s ok to feel that way can ease some of the stress.
Find a reliable coping mechanism
When those emotions come to the surface, how do you respond? It may be instinct to feel like crawling into a hole - but try to find something that allows you to use your brainpower productively instead of spiraling into anxiety. It could be writing (but not sending) a letter, a hot yoga class, a mindfulness puzzle, even walking your dog.
Make a plan
Figure out ahead of time how you’re going to spend the holidays (or the difficult day). It could be a volunteer day, a treat yourself day or a day with your bestie. If you are with family, make a mental list of conversations that you won’t engage in and what you’ll do if an off-limits topic comes up. You could offer to run to the store, take the garbage out and get some fresh air, or start a game with the kids. But what you’re doing is redirecting and not engaging in the triggering conversation or behavior.
Don’t encourage FOMO by scrolling through social media when you’re likely to see posts about everyone and their families.
Write a list of your positive attributes
Remind yourself of everything great about you - no matter what anybody else has to say.
The holidays won’t last forever - it’s a moment in time. But we still have to be armed with some best practices to minimize the damage that we could experience from them.
Any thoughts on these? What’s worked for you in the past? Feel free to share with me in the comments!