It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and for many it’s also the most stressful. The intent of gathering with friends and family is to celebrate and spread happiness, but often we lose the meaning and end up stuck on the logistics of gift giving and the strain of dealing with difficult personalities.
So, how do you cope and keep yourself from having a breakdown when you burn the casserole and Uncle Jim brings up politics at dinner? I turned to the wealth of knowledge that the internet provides for answers.
Mental Health Today has a great article written by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W. on How To Survive The Holidays with a ton of helpful advice. Brief highlights for me are their suggestions to:
- “Be careful of “shoulds” – it is better to do what is most helpful for you and your family. If a situation looks especially difficult over the holidays, don’t get involved if possible.”
- “There is no right or wrong way to handle the day. “
- “Stop putting unreasonable pressure on yourself to be happy during the holidays. When you have legitimate reasons for being happy, acknowledge them and be gentle with yourself.”
I have a habit of getting stuck on what a family oriented holiday should be, how I should feel, and what I should do. This is problematic because I end up putting pressure on myself to perform family verses experiencing it. Wherever you end up whether it be with your family, his/her family, in a soup kitchen, on a trip, or at home alone there is no right way to celebrate.
Even Kesha can relate to the holiday mental health struggle! In her recent essay for TIME she wrote, “Around the holidays, I often feel like I’m supposed to be everywhere, with everyone — all with the added guilt that it’s the season of giving.” To combat this societal pressure and maintain her mental health she constantly reminds herself, “It’s not selfish to take time for yourself.” I’ve talked about this before in my post You Can’t Drink From An Empty Well and I agree with Kesha that if you do take time for yourself, “you will actually be much better company for those around you.”
Be kind to others, be kind to yourselves, and let’s leave the stress and pressure of getting the holidays right behind us.