The Holiday's can be a stressful time, but they don't have to be! Below are a few of my favourite practical tips for all individuals that are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or lonely around this time of year.
1. If you are hosting a big gathering, or even just your family, try to remember it’s all about the kids; your own, your grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc. They won't notice if something isn't perfect. So adjusting your mindset to be present may help you forget about the stress of the future or past, and allow you to get the most out of the holidays with them.
2. Set up time for interactive games or physical activities- food does not have to be the focal point, especially when kids are involved, peanut butter, nachos or Annie’s would be a hit for the kids. If it's not within your capacity to make a huge feast this year, that's okay, and managing your guests expectations will be the key to success.
3. Acceptance. For those that want to opt out of gatherings for the upcoming holiday season, it can be a tough conversation to let others know when you are not up for hosting or attending. Use kind words and compassion all the way through the disappointment/anger/ guilt/all of the emotions that can arise in these kinds of conversations. Creating new boundaries can be difficult, especially with family, but it is very necessary for your mental health.
4. Ask. Staying solo can be ok when it is the relaxing day for which you’ve longed. Otherwise, step out and ask permission to attend a gathering. ‘I’d like to be a part of your celebration if it works for you.’ Here is where acceptance comes in again. When you are invited, offer to contribute something tangible even offering to clean the dishes or clear the table. Gifts of time and effort build relationships. In the event your request is not an option, exhale and consider inviting other solos to meet up. Even a cup of tea is a precious gift to give or receive when you don’t want to be alone. Call someone. Look online or in the local paper for community gatherings for folks like you who have experience setting up events to spread kindness with company.
5. Reach out. If you physically or mentally can not do the above, call a support line- the people that answer that call are often volunteers, who choose to be available for YOU.
6. Own the responsibility of your mental health. Holiday's often time come with traditions and the expectations that each year will be similar to the last. If you find yourself overwhelmed, think through the scenarios, be aware of your needs and wants. Acknowledge what will enhance your holiday experience. Accept and think through with compassion for yourself and others, about how the conversations will be respectful and bring you closer together rather than farther apart. ‘Yes, we are changing things up this year and it will be different.’
Holiday gatherings have been put on hold, or may have looked very different for many of us over the past couple of years.
We are capable of navigating through change, no matter what that change is.
Change is necessary, and I believe we can all navigate our way through together.
Good bye for now. I hope you find moments of peace this holiday.