While Christmas and other holidays are meant to be some of the happiest times of the year, often for many people it quickly becomes a time of difficult emotions including but not limited to: stress, anxiety, depression, and grief. Compounding the problem of those emotions with the irregularities of schedule during the holiday and the overabundance of people crowding in on you, it can be increasingly difficult to catch your breath and make it through the holidays well. Below are a few recommendations for making it through the holidays well so that they can be restful and enjoyable.
Maintain Your Routine
Most of us have a routine during the year that can easily be disrupted during the holidays when work, school, and normal social activities are not in session. Our routines build in disciplines and other activities that are healthy such as working out, eating healthy meals, daily scripture reading and prayer. Sticking to these routines as much as possible during the holidays might also help you maintain emotional balance when other areas of life are unbalanced. Perhaps this means finding a temporary gym while you travel. Asking family members about nearby greenways or neighborhood safety so that you can go for runs before the activities of the day begin. You’re your schedule so that you are including meals to ensure that they are not missed, or you are not forced to eat the quickest and greasiest thing you can find. Even taking your bible or journal with you in your bag or car so that you can do your reading and prayers between family activities. Combining a few of these together can allow for you to maintain a healthy balance in life while understanding that flexibility during the holidays will be necessary.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do when you are in a space that is surrounded by family. Understanding your emotions with the added pressure of people surrounding you is difficult. Take time to process your emotions. Do not rush through your emotions simply because you believe that is what is necessary or being asked of you by others. Allow yourself the space necessary to work through the difficult emotions, not simply avoid them.
Allow Space to Grieve
For many, this holiday season will look different because of the loss of a love one either physically or relationally. Being around family, potentially for the first time since that loss can bring up emotions that previously haven’t been felt or at the very least have felt manageable. Build space into your schedule to be able to process any emotions that arise. Whether you’re dealing with the loss of life or a relationship, those emotions can be unpredictable and often come on quickly in a moment. Find a safe space to be away from family to deal with the emotions that you are feeling. If you need to be away from family for a brief time to care for yourself, take that time.
Prepare Others to Support You
In your everyday life, you should have people who are there for you to love and support you. During the holidays those people become that much more important, even if they are physically not with you during your holiday travel. As much as you are able, it would be helpful to talk to your community about situations that you are going to face during the holidays that might be challenging for you. Furthermore, for family members who might be aware of the difficult situation ask them to help by encouraging you with a kind word, a hug, or even by giving you space to process.
Learn to Say No
There will be situations where you will be given the opportunity or expected to do more than will be healthy for you. The ability to say no to things during holidays is an important part of maintaining emotional health. If you feel like too much responsibility is being given to you to make the holidays happen, make sure that you have the freedom to delegate to others and scale back on expected holiday tradition.