By Darcie Brown, MA, Clinical Counsellor
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Right? For many people, the holidays are both festive and demanding. Instead of careening headlong into the season, take some time to decide how you will be purposeful and present to not only survive but thrive.
1. It’s okay to be sad. The perfect holiday season is a myth. Sometimes the joy and cheer passes us by and that’s okay. Keeping up the Instagram-worthy illusion that we’re happy can be exhausting and soul-draining. Be aware of what events, people, and situations may be emotionally triggering for you and be strategic about making short appearances or taking “bathroom breaks” to calm yourself.
2. Keep your self-expectations reasonable. In our effort to spread cheer and joy, we often pile on burdens. Be ruthless about how much extra you can take on. Do you really need to bake a dozen different kinds of cookies and decorate every room in the house? Focus on the traditions and activities that you truly enjoy and say no as many times as needed. Find ways to cut corners when you entertain.
3. Plan how to maintain family harmony. The holidays can often lead to family drama. While we cannot control others, we can control our own reactions and behaviour. Take care of yourself by not overcommitting and spreading yourself too thin. Keep dinner conversations away from school problems and bad grades for children, and tread lightly when it comes to politics or other topics if they’re likely to make your blood boil.
4. Put down your phone and stay in the moment. It’s so easy to pull out our phones to zone out and escape overstimulating activity or get us through those emotionally difficult moments. By being purposefully present we can notice and savour moments rather than rushing through the season. Try having deeper conversations by approaching others with curiosity and asking questions. If you’re stuck, you can use Ungame cards, a box of cards with interesting questions to get conversations going.
5. Take care of your body. Besides being good for our physical health, being active is an essential part of maintaining our mental health as it reduces anxiety and stress. Find creative ways to get yourself moving – play tag with the kids, get some jump ropes, or just crank up the music and dance in your livingroom. Also, staying hydrated by drinking enough water and using moisturizer are some basic ways that you can practice self-care during the holidays