Let’s face it- holidays can be stressful! Although the holidays can be a joyful time of the year, it can be difficult to think about how to coordinate family get togethers, how to work through grief that the holidays trigger, how to not go into a financial bind, and the list goes on.
You’ve likely heard the expression before, but it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive. So, how can you be proactive this year to get through the holidays and have your mental heath intact? Take a read below and apply these tips to actually survive the holiday season this year!
Everyone in your family or close-knit group is going to have their own ideas and opinions about how the holidays should be (i.e. whose house everyone meets up at, what traditions are followed, what parties to attend, etc). Think about how you want your holiday season to be. Just because someone wants to follow a tradition for themselves does not mean that you have to do the same thing.
Identify what holiday traditions you would like, who you want to see on the holidays, how long you want to spend with family and by yourself, and put that into action! Additionally, think realistically when you plan your holiday season. For example, the expensive gifts you might want to get for family/friends may not be feasible this year. So, when thinking about how you want your holiday season to be, think about your desires while also being realistic as to what is within your control and means. In the end, you will be much happier knowing that you have some control of how your holiday season goes.
This is a big one! It can be hard to say “no” during the holidays because of the spirit around the holiday season, but having boundaries and sticking to your boundaries is essential. It’s unrealistic to meet every need that others have for the holidays, attend every event that is planned, and financially meet everyone’s wishes.
The first step to setting boundaries is to start acknowledging how you’re feeling and what your needs are. When you notice yourself wanting to say “no” or feeling exhausted by something/someone, think about what boundary you might need to implement. Then, actually implement a boundary and say “no” to honor your needs.
Second, recognize what you’re actually able to give. Don’t over exert your time, giving to others, your finances, etc. Reflect on what you need for your own self-care and what is within your needs/means. This means that you might have to say “no” to overspending to ensure that you won’t be in a financial bind later. Or, this might mean saying “no” to a holiday party because you’re too exhausted from others that you’ve attended.
Last, to set boundaries for the holidays be clear in communicating these boundaries to others (who need to know). When you set boundaries with others know that you don’t have to give a detailed explanation. Keep it short and sweet to say “no” and what you are/aren’t able to do, but know that you don’t have to go into a detailed explanation about your circumstances or your mental health at that time.
During the holidays, you’ll likely be around people who stress you out at some point. Or, the holidays may bring-up family drama or grief. Plan ahead this holiday by having go-to coping skills to use. Plan to take care of yourself by having plans for what you can do when the holiday drama or grief gets to be too much. Some ideas can be: going for a walk, removing yourself from the situation for a short period of time, having someone you trust to talk to, listening to music, etc. Additionally, to cope with the holiday season, make sure that you’re taking care of your overall health. Don’t throw your usual self-care routine out the window. Continue to maintain your self-care routine so that your health does not decline as a result of the holiday season.
Are you ready to survive this holiday season? Survive this holiday season by planning ahead for what YOU want, setting boundaries as needed, and having go-to coping skills to get through this holiday season.
Amanda Cummins is a marriage counselor with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She focuses on working with couples in distress as well as families and children in transitions. As a Denver Native, Amanda enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her family.