Holidays are a tough time of the year for a lot of us. Personally, I love the holidays and that love is a big part of my depression, since my family has changed so drastically in the last decade. I have been healing more this last year than any year prior, so that’s a good thing! My coping methods may not work for everybody, but they helped me a lot! Here’s my step by step guide to having a Holly Jolly Holiday:
- Take care of what matters most to you, FIRST! Is having the perfect outfit your top priority? Can you just not survive without getting your kids the ultimate gift? Do you need to prepare a speech and your favorite Bible verse to feel complete? Whatever your top priority for the holidays is, do that first! For me, it’s getting the kids things to open. Once I’ve got a few gifts for each of my children, I relax a lot more! If you can eliminate the largest stressor from your planning, then do that one before you tackle anything else. Also, it gives you time to make any needed changes, so the most important detail is the most perfect.
- Know what you’re doing! Having a plan in place a month before is not crazy, crazy is running around or being sad and alone because you decided to wing it! Figure out who you want to see, who you have the ability to see, and who you want to avoid. If you have a set plan in place before any big holiday, you’ll be a lot less stressed about everything in general.
- Internal bonding. Get to know yourself and what you either love or hate about the holidays. Dig in there and figure out how to fix the problem! Did you have huge family gatherings that left you miserable and anxious this time of the year every year? Go see a movie by yourself and break the tradition that stresses you out! Do you look forward to going home and seeing everybody, and without that it just doesn’t feel like a holiday? Then do whatever you can to go home, if home isn’t there anymore, find out where it is now! Personally, I loved when my mom would actually be mom! She’d cook and bake, and create so much Christmas magic… It was a change from her normal demeanor! Now I make sure to go the extra mile for the holidays and create the magic for my own children. There’s always a solution if you dig deep enough. Two heads are better than one, but using your head and your heart gets a lot more done!
- Be happy!!! Listen to holiday music, dance and sing, get dressed up… Or sit in your pajamas and watch movies while you stuff your face. Do what you love, especially on the hardest days. When the holiday blues are eating at you so much that you can’t remember how to smile, that’s when you need to redirect and do what makes you happy. One night, I dressed up like a princess (tiara and all) and made fancy fruity cocktails for my husband and I while we wrapped gifts! Did I still get insomnia? Yep. Was my family still absent from my life? Yep. Did I have things to be happy about? Yes, yes I did. So I chose to focus on that.
- Take care of others only after yourself. If you aren’t ready to make a holiday commitment, then don’t. You don’t owe anybody anything at the cost of your well being. Never punish yourself to make others happy.
- Last but not least, be good to others. Recognize your own bad feelings and remind yourself that you aren’t the only one struggling this season. Most of us are just trying to get by and survive just like you, so be courteous and considerate, even when others aren’t.
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help. A stranger, a friend, a family member… Don’t suffer alone. Find somebody and let them know you need help, let them know you need support, and don’t give up if they turn you away. Humans are social creatures and we need other humans. Don’t suffer alone and don’t fall victim to abuse. You can get through this, and it’ll be easier next year, and even easier the year after that!