If you are stressed during the holidays you are not alone. Dealing with the typical expectations of the season is one thing but we know that there can be deeper reasons for an emotional toll this time of year.
For some, visiting extended family comes with anxiety. Whether it’s across town or across the country, going home for the holidays when there is an underlying sentiment of unacceptance by family members can be overwhelming. Sometimes seeing certain relatives might even resurface hurtful memories.
And we know that being included feels better than being excluded, so when the bombardment of Christmas commercials are packed with conventional images of families, it might be a source of agitation. While there have been some improvements in LGBTQ+ representation in mainstream media, it is still in the minority and feels especially absent during the holidays when ideas of family are emphasized.
Lack of affirmation whether from relatives or from society, can lead to increased stress which is amplified during the holidays. Moreover, without validation worry can set in, impacting mental and physical health. Yet, there are steps you can take to help you cope with the added stressors of the season, a few are outlined below:
Physical Health Aids Mental Health
- It has been documented repeatedly that physical exercise releases endorphins, feel-good neurotransmitters which can help mute bad feelings. Even if you find yourself out of town, don’t disrupt your exercise regimen; find a way to move. And if you don’t have an exercise regimen, this season is a great time to start one.
- Be mindful of overindulging in food and spirits. The abundance of food and drink during the holidays is tempting, but be aware of how much you are consuming. Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet and getting enough sleep, is a way to stockpile superpowers to help you manage stressors.
Stay Connected With Yourself and With Your Community
- If you have developed a mantra—a short positive, affirming statement that you believe in, or want to believe in—keep it close. Calm yourself, by reflecting on it or even reading it to yourself aloud. And if you haven’t written one, give it a try.
- If you are going to be away from your community and support network, ask them to be available for a call from you if anxiety sets in.
Finally, it is easy to get caught up in the unrealistic demands and expectations of the holidays. Remember what matters most is to be kind to yourself and to keep those who appreciate you the most nearby. Make this season and every day your own.