Prioritizing Mental Health Over The Holidays
The holidays are among us.
While some describe this period as the most wonderful time of the year, many of us dread this time and associate it with negative emotions, like overwhelming stress. Though this is entirely normal, there are ways to ensure that you are maximizing your enjoyment of the holiday season without ignoring your feelings or emotions. Every year is different, and while we can never fully anticipate the challenges or circumstances we’ll face, we can control our reactions to them. Here I’ll be sharing a few bits of advice I’ve learned over the years for managing and prioritizing my own mental health over the holidays.
It is inevitable that when families get together, opinions will clash and in some cases, lead to major conflict. This is certainly true of my family, some of whom will tirelessly argue their points, refusing to “agree to disagree”. If you wish to avoid getting caught up in these anger-inducing and frustrating conversations, be vocal with your boundaries. Disclose that you’re simply not willing to discuss certain topics and that you’re justified in your right to do so. Having an established set of boundaries that you enforce when needed allows you to bravely stand up for your beliefs without crossing any lines. If whomever you’re speaking with is dismissive or disrespectful, don’t feel obligated to engage with them. Your mental security and stability should be your number one priority.
Perhaps this year’s unfortunate circumstances have prevented you from seeing your family or loved ones in person or have limited your access to them in some way. Your plans or expectations of this time may not amount to what you thought they would. This is completely OK. Understand that while this year may not provide the same sense of togetherness, tradition, or nostalgia, next year will (most likely) redeem for this year’s lack of unity. Find new ways to connect with your loved ones. Have drinks or dinner over video chat, create new traditions, and try to make the best with what you have.
Make Me Time A Must
This year more than ever before, prioritizing yourself and your own comfort is a necessity. Maybe you’re feeling burnt out from generously completing tasks for others, or tirelessly shopping for stocking stuffers. Devote some time for you to just be you. Say no to the things you want to say no to. Release feelings of guilt for being “selfish”. Buy yourself a gift or gift yourself the time to do something you love. You’ll be shocked at how good it feels to REALLY treat yourself like the queen that you are.
Focus On Your Feelings
Does your family give unsolicited advice or provide unwanted commentary on matters such as: your relationship status, your weight, your choice in clothing, ideologies, etc.? These comments can send you spiralling into a dark headspace and can be extremely triggering. I have learned to deal with this by 1) politely ask whomever to not make comments about that subject to you as it is something you do not wish to discuss. 2) Ignore it. If the comment triggers a chain reaction of negative thoughts in your mind, acknowledge them as such, just thoughts, which are not necessarily rooted in fact or reality. Remind yourself that the only person whose opinion of you matters is your own. If you are happy with yourself, you’ve already won. What others say to you, is a greater reflection of them than you. Trust your feelings and lean into them, and let them pass.