For some of us, holidays bring fond memories and opportunities for new experiences of joy and connection with family and friends. For many others, holidays are a time of obligation, tension, and triggers. Sometimes having great holiday time makes us sad that we do not live closer to our families, on the other hand, difficult holiday experiences remind us of why we moved away in the first place. If holidays are a tough time for you, for any reason, I hope to give you some tools to maximize skills of support.
Most importantly, prioritize your own needs. It is not selfish to have boundaries and put yourself first. This actually models health for your family. Take some time prior to your plans to think through what makes sense for you. Do you want to spend the holidays with your family? Start there. It is okay to come up with alternative plans that are more supportive and enjoyable for you. If you do want to spend the holidays with family, what are you looking forward to? What are you worried about? Do some writing about what would make the time supportive for you.
Thinking about contingency plans for if you need a break can be beneficial so you do not have to create something in a potential moment of stress. Do you have friends nearby that can check in with you and provide support? Maybe schedule some meals with friends so you have time away if family is hard for you. Go for walks and practice mindfulness and meditation. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and have whatever responses you have. Family can be our biggest support and biggest source of stress all at the same time.
Lastly, build in support for after the holidays. Some of us have a hard time getting back from the holidays. Sometimes it is because we miss the family time and it is hard to be away from family and back at work. For others the process of being with family elicits hard feelings and/or requires a level of separation from our feelings in order to fake our way through the time. This can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety after the fact as the experience of holding everything together with family leads to problems later. Give yourself space to unwind and process your holiday experience with your support system regardless of whether your holidays were wonderful or stressful. This will help you reintegrate back into the daily grind of life.
As always, please reach out to Mosaic if we can help any of you during this holiday season. We wish you all a wonderful December and look forward to growing together in the New Year.