It is mid-December and around this time of year there are a lot of emotions in the air! We can feel excited and happy for the Holidays approaching and we are anticipating the New Year. It can also be a time of intense sadness and stress because of family and friends that might not be present, or struggling with the pressures of giving elaborate presents.
I wanted to validate and normalize these negative feelings associated with the Holidays. These negative feelings are normal and common among many of us. It is ok to feel a knee-jerk reaction and want to cringe when people ask, “Are you ready for the Holidays?” The answer you formulate for these questions is your own, but I would encourage you to give yourself permission to not live up the the social pressures that the Holidays place on us.
Something I did for myself (and thankfully my mother was on-board) was that I made an agreement that we would not get each other gifts. We thought about it for a minute and then took it back for the compromise that we would just get each other a present under $20. We discussed that next year we would be more prepared, and we would pull names for Secret Santa on Thanksgiving.
Another thing I practice is having boundaries. Boundary setting is a constant practice for most of us, because not having healthy boundaries has been a longstanding habit that most of us have inherited from childhood.
During the Holidays I encourage you all to be prepared for some issues that may arise. I want to encourage you and hope that you give yourself permission to say no. When we are doing things out of our means or ability it often comes with feelings of resentment.
I also want to encourage you to come up with a plan and give yourself an out. If you are feeling like you need a break from any negative emotions you may have, or you want to end a conversation, it is ok to excuse yourself to go to the restroom or to another location. Come up with an exit strategy that is natural for you.
Most of all I want to encourage you all to try to remain positive and think of the things you enjoy about the season. Are there any traditional foods that you can enjoy during this time of year? Are there friends/family traditions or events that you do around this time? What are the smells in the house that you enjoy (smells of baking, cinammon, pine)?
I have attached a pamplet authored by NAMI below with additional information about Holiday Blues: