The holiday season is an exciting time of year. However, many people dread the holiday season because they don’t have good relationships with family, holidays bring up bad memories from childhood or the death of significant loved. Also, holidays might be challenging if you aren’t able to be near the people you cherish most. Thanksgiving and Christmas ignites a season of depression or anxiety for some. Simply being at office parties can seem like a huge task. Watching Hallmark movies or watching others excitement may spur bouts of depression or anxiety. Having a plan to tackle the holiday season will prevent feelings of depression and anxiety.
We have the power to create whatever sort of holiday experience we want, wherever we want. Do something different! Take a solo trip for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Go on a trip with your significant other or a friend. Visit a friend who experiences depression during the holiday season. Plan a celebration with your friends a few days prior to the actual holiday. There are no rules on exactly how the holiday should be celebrated. So get creative with coming up with a plan to beat the holiday blues.
Start New Traditions
It’s okay to mimic the traditions you had in childhood (if they were healthy). If you didn’t have any traditions its time to create traditions that you want. At Thanksgiving, go to your local parade, sign up for a race the day of, feed the homeless or binge on a Netflix series. It’s okay to decorate if you are single. Many times, people reserve decorating for Thanksgiving or Christmas until they have kids or are married. You can start now! Get a tree and hang some light. For Christmas, check out a holiday light show in your area, have a party or cook a fancy meal.
If time with family is stressful, set firm boundaries before the holiday approaches. Setting boundaries in advance allows time for you family to adjust to your expectations before the Big Day. Be clear about how you want to spend your holiday. If you have challenges with your siblings or parents, you don’t have to stay in the house with them. Rent a hotel. If you don’t like to go over your aunt’s house. Don’t go. If you feel pressured to buy everyone a gift. Break the chains. People respect boundaries. Set them and watch others accept them because they have no choice.
Build Your Tribe
We are only as healthy as our support system. Build relationships that are healthy. Spend the holiday with your tribe. Your tribe might compass family, friends or co-workers. Don’t limit the idea of holidays to a time that is spent with family (blood relatives). Allow yourself to be limitless in your thinking and by doing so you will be able to build a tribe of supportive people.
Most importantly, if you are invited to join in the traditions of others, Say Yes! Don’t sit in the house and stew over what you don’t have. Create what you want.
Nedra Tawwab, LCSW
904 E. 8th St. Charlotte, NC 28204