It really hurts my heart when clients' stress levels increase by a billion percent as the holiday season arrives. There's the typical holiday crap such as cleaning like a mad person, making sure the damn turkey gets thawed, and making sure you get just the right type of soap for Aunt Betsy's sensitive skin. C'mon Aunt Betsy. Get your shit together.
But then there's the truly distressing and panic-inducing elements of the holiday season. And most of those get tied to family.
Family can be our biggest source of love and warmth, and conversely, family can be our biggest source of hurt and betrayal. That's such a sad reality, but if this is the case in your family, then it's time to accept the reality and do what you need to do to stay sane during the holiday season. (Remember, acceptance doesn't mean you have to like it... just acknowledging it for what it is.)
So how the flip do you go about staying sane when family is a source of anxiety, guilt, stress, and all the other crappy feelings?
Well, you set up a plan. You set boundaries. You set up an exit strategy.
You allow yourself to set a time limit at mom's house. You walk away when dad starts getting heated about politics. You drive separately to holiday festivities so you can bounce out whenever the hell you need to. You have a friend call you saying they've fallen 8 stories and need you at the hospital immediately. You decide to skip family altogether and be around friends instead. You do what you need to do for you.
Just because holidays may traditionally mean you spend time with family, there's nowhere that says you must be around people who make you feel miserable. Arm yourself with self-care and prioritizing yourself. Surround yourself with people who truly love you and care about you. Do things that uplift your soul and make you smile.
And if that means you sit on the floor with a box of pizza watching your favorite show (The Office is a good one...) then sit your ass down, gleefully eat that pizza, and lose yourself in your show. That's such a nicer alternative to having a panic attack as you drive towards your childhood home where you only feel the heaviness of tension, guilt, and sadness. Screw that.
As a side note, know that there are people either in your life already or people you can seek out (ahem, a therapist) that will support you through your holiday difficulties. Find those people.
I wish you a smooth holiday season and any boundary or plan you set... good for you. You're doing something great for yourself and that's badass.
Until next time,