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How To Have Happier Holidays

How To Have Happier Holidays

December has a bit of a magical quality to it! We see the end of fall and shift into winter. The snow begins to fall, and we begin to prepare for and engage in holiday season. There are several holiday traditions that happen in December, with different religions and cultures, and in Canada, that means that many people are making plans to spend time with family, friends, in their churches or places of worship. Both literally and symbolically, a lot is happening this month for people of all cultures. One thing that unites us all, is that people everywhere are dreading certain aspects of these holidays.

As much fun as celebrations, parties, family dinners, and worship services can be, time with others can be draining and stressful. If this upcoming holiday season is triggering stress, insecurities, worries, and anxiety for you, here are some ideas that I have used to help me get through the month.

What are your social “obligations”? I ask in that way, because usually we have a choice to participate in holiday traditions or not. When you think about the things that feel like a chore, that is your first clue that that may not be something you should participate in. Chat with someone you trust or journal about what part of going feels like a chore. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. If I choose not to go, what are some of the outcomes I will need to deal with afterward?
  2. How can I plan and prepare to handle other people’s feelings if I decide not to go?
  3. What will happen if I go?
  4. How can I prepare myself to handle the reality of being with these people?
  5. What could a back-up plan be if I need to leave?

Seriously, these questions have been lifesavers over the years. The only thing we can do is to know ourselves and honour what we need. This is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, and our healing. This is one way to set boundaries over the holidays, feel prepared for what you know may be coming, and to support your own mental health throughout this season.

Some holidays I have spent with family and some I have spent at work, enjoying the break from family dynamics. One thing I have made sure to include as often as possible, is spending time with my friends over the holidays. I celebrate Christmas, and now do a “Friendmas”. It’s somewhere I can fully be myself and leave feeling good and elevated, rather than drained from dealing with dysfunctional family or “friend” dynamics. Do yourself a favour this holiday season, and reclaim your right to choose how you spend your time.