Hope for the Holidays
If the holiday season evokes more stress than excitement in you, you’re not alone.
In truth, the holidays have become something bigger than they need to be. Every year, they seem to take up more and more of the winter season, with Christmas music playing before trick-or-treating is even over.
Absolutely nothing is wrong with wanting to avoid getting swept up in the media madness that has made this time of year into something more. There is no pressure to feel anything specific about the holidays. If they make you feel joyful, fantastic, but if they don’t, that’s okay, too. For many LGBTQ people, the holidays can be filled with anxiety and trauma as we anticipate seeing family and friends who may have rejected our identities or to whom we are not yet out.
If this time of year is indeed a source of stress for you, Urban Playology offers special holiday sessions and consultations. For now, here are a few tips to help get you through the holidays:
1. Begin a daily grounding ritual before the holidays begin
Whether first thing in the morning or before bed each night, doing something consistent every day will help you feel grounded and present within your own body. This ritual can be anything, from walking your dog to meditating to dancing around your room to putting on your favorite body oil to talking to a friend.
Whatever ritual you choose, make sure you begin before the holidays and continue doing after. Just like there is a warm up and a cool down when we exercise, we need to both prepare our minds and bodies for the events to come and also help them recover when they are over.
2. Volunteer and Commit Random Acts of Kindness
Doing something kind for another person is one of the best ways to feel better when you are sad or stressed. It allows you to step outside of yourself for a while—and it just feels really good. So sign up to volunteer at a soup kitchen or do an extra round of dishes at home without asking for a thank you or acknowledgement—anything you do that will brighten someone’s day is sure to also brighten yours.
3. Self-care, self-care, self-care
It seems obvious, but when you’re hungry, eat. When you’re tired, sleep. When you have to go to the bathroom, go. When you need a moment to be alone and breathe, excuse yourself. All of this impacts your stress levels, so make sure your body and mind are nourished and being given what they need.
4. Make a family pact
If you’re worried about difficult conversations coming up at family gatherings, find out if your family will agree to certain topics being off the table while you’re all together.
5. Focus on the positive
Whatever we focus on gets bigger. If we focus on the positive, we see more positivity. If we focus on the negative, we see more negativity. Do your best to focus on the positive things in your life, and maybe even the positive things about your family.
6. Know that it’s okay to decide to stay home this year
Sometimes, it’s okay to make the difficult decision to avoid being with the people who cause you stress. If you’re going to be more upset or traumatized after visits with your family, if it will be harder for you to go back to work or go back to your friends or partner, ask yourself if it is really worth it.
Remember, your family and where you come from is only one aspect of who you are. You are not just the child of your parents, the sibling of your siblings, the grandchild to your grandparents. You are a writer, a photographer, a doctor, a friend, a partner, someone with interests and hobbies. You are bigger than your family.
7. Consider temporarily giving up social media
Take a break and focus on yourself this holiday season. If you need help committing to the hiatus, find an accountability partner that can keep you on track.
8. When you’re feeling true despair, wait five minutes
When you are starting to feel really dark and despairing, give yourself five minutes. If you wait five minutes, that feeling will peak, and then wait another five minutes and you should start to feel better, especially if you have someone you can share your despair with. Urban Playology clients have access to their therapist 24/7. Reaching out to a therapist or a friend you can trust can quickly help you start to feel more regulated.
Keep in mind that there is no pressure for your holiday season to be any one thing. Everything is going to be okay, as long as we stop trying to define what “ok” looks like.
Here are some more articles about the importance of self-care: