Be kind to yourself, the holidays are coming!
What sort of response does this evoke in you? Are you the type to dance around the house, humming and singing carols, tinsel flying, garland, lights, loving every minute of the season from pre-Thanksgiving to after ringing in the New Year? Or, does it strike a chord of sadness in you? Another season of anxiety and depression from the stress and loneliness the holidays can bring? Are you figuring out a way to hibernate through winter?
I used to be the former. I hope, wish, plan, and aspire to be that type of person in the future. But, this year; I am the latter. I fully admit it is coming down on me. If you dread the holidays like me this year, (maybe you do every year), and would like to hibernate until March (I am going to loop Valentine’s Day is here with my season of dread), but can’t because, well, because we can’t. Here are some tips to turn this whole season around, or at least cope with it.
- BE KIND TO YOURSELF!
- Wait for it, BE KIND TO YOURSELF! It is hard enough as is, but when you start letting the negative inside voices harp on you and remind you of all your faults, tell it to shush. A gift to yourself. Tis the season to not listen to the internal negative self-talk, fa la la la la la la la la.
- Stick to your routine. Or if you are going to change your routine, add something beneficial. For example, every morning I spend five minutes, stretching on the bed, toes, feet, legs, and all the while reciting, “It’s going to be a great day. Today is a great day. I am loving and lovable.” I try hard to focus only on the good things, as small as they may be. My latte coming out right, I made a good omelet, I don’t have to iron today’s clothes, and my kids are smiling. It is difficult sometimes. But, remember tip #1.
- Think moderation. As tempting as that second glass of wine seems, or as badly as I want to annihilate a pint… okay a gallon ice cream, I also know that those things ultimately don’t make me feel good. I would rather increase my intake of vitamin B, D, decrease my sugar and stave off the hangover.
- Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Do NOT think you have to create a Christmas that everyone will envy. Tip #1, be kind to yourself. The cheese ball at the store with a package of crackers is good enough. Better yet, let someone else bring cheese and crackers.
- Stay connected, if you want. The holidays are really about friends and family. If your family is terrible and the cause of holiday gloom, seek friends. If it is the other way, seek family. If it is both, make sure you plan out some quiet alone time. If you are alone and don’t want to be, volunteer somewhere. There is joy out there, and if you help bring out a smile on someone’s face, that is an amazing feeling.
- Say bye-bye to guilt. That belongs with being realistic and the #1 tip, being kind to yourself. The holiday isn’t perfect, don’t beat yourself up. Can’t afford a trip to see family, don’t want to see family, can’t buy gifts? Don’t worry. If someone is truly upset by your spread or financial means, then you’ll cross that bridge when you get to it. Most likely everyone will either not even notice, or completely understand.
- Enjoy today, don’t romanticize the past holidays. Our memories are not that great; we tend to make things better in the past when we are blue.
- Have a sense of humor, even if it’s dark. Laugh. Figure out what makes you laugh and immerse yourself in it. I know some pretty good jokes that I can’t post. Don’t forget to find humor in your mistakes, laugh them off.
- Ask for help. Being a holiday martyr is only good for depressing movies, that I will not be watching. If it gets to be too much, ask for help. It is temporary, this yucky feeling. “Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.”- Victor Hugo.
As the holiday approaches, be kind to yourself (sound familiar?) with all the stresses and demands we put on ourselves, and we let others put on us. The best gift you can give yourself is peace. That will spread to those around you.
Clinical Director Therapist
Lana Reihani, LPCC, is a Clinical Mental Health Therapist, Clinical Supervisor, and Clinical Director with Sage Neuroscience Center. She is passionate about strengthening evidence-based clinical practices with radical empathy and a touch of humor, delivered with safety, equality, and diversity in mind. In her free time, Lana loves to learn, cook, find the best light for selfies, share amazing memes, and watch trashy reality TV.