Taking It Easy This Holiday Season
Written by Erin Mitchell, MSW, LCSW
The holiday season is one that many people find themselves eagerly awaiting every year; however, not everyone feels that way. For some, the holidays bring feelings of anxiety, sadness, grief, or even a combination of these emotions. When these are the primary emotions you are experiencing, it makes it incredibly difficult to face down all of the upcoming responsibilities and events for the holidays.
This year we are approaching the second holiday season of the pandemic, which has impacted all of us in various ways. After almost two years of changes to our normal routines, it can feel depressing to be here again. We all have experienced so many things since March of 2020 that it can feel hard to even remember all of it at times. If you find yourself struggling with the holidays, there can be a wide variety of reasons behind these feelings, such as:
Sometimes it can feel like an impossible task to overcome these feelings, allowing us to engage with the holidays. It is good to start by figuring out where your feelings of stress or distress are coming from. If your stress is coming from financial concerns, it may be beneficial to look at making items for loved ones or budgeting how much to spend on gifts. If you’re experiencing grief, it can be helpful to follow how you feel and make intentional changes to your holiday plans instead of forcing yourself to follow traditions.
Make a list and consider what you (and your immediate family) actually want to do and what you need to do for the holidays. Do you really need to get thoughtful gifts for all 75 people on your list? Do you really want to make 10 different types of complicated cookies? It is completely acceptable to pare down on what you are expecting yourself to do this holiday season. If you are feeling concerned about how others in your life are going to react to a change in the usual holiday schedule, keep in mind that this year (much like last year) is bound to be full of changes from the norm. This is a good time to set boundaries for the things you don’t want to do and to use the power of saying “no” or compromising. Maybe you are going to the work holiday party, but you only plan to stay for one hour before leaving. Again, really consider what is most important to you during the holiday season and let that help guide you.
Holidays do not have to be the most stressful time of the year and perfection is not possible, or required. Giving yourself intentional downtime for self-care, or just to relax at home, may play an important role in managing the stress of the season. If you are interested in ways to help yourself get motivated, please take a look at the OakHeart Facebook page throughout this week for tips.