As a recovering people-pleaser, understanding that it’s not selfish to take care of myself first has always been a bit of a struggle.
It was something I heard early on in recovery, but something that my mind argued against accepting. I felt guilty for saying no to plans, creating boundaries that were healthy for me but kept other people out, and really just doing what I needed to do to heal.
The holidays can bring an extra sort of guilt created by society, families, and just holiday stigmas in general. For those of us who struggle with mental health issues, forced family get togethers and the stress of holiday giving can make those problems even worse. Some of us have family we may not get along with while some many not have any at all. Any of these situations can suck the joy out of the holiday season.
While Neil and I have nothing against our families (in fact, we quite like them), we both get extremely stressed out about holiday travel. We’ve done it enough to know that it ruins most of the holidays we have traveled on. One of the ways we decided to remedy that situation was no declare no travel on the holidays. We typically spend Thanksgiving and Christmas by ourselves or with local friends and then visit our families during the rest of the year. It’s been so much less of a headache this way.
Think about what you need this holiday season.
If you need to say no to a family gathering, say no.
Don’t overcommit yourself to events. Realistically think about how much time you have to devote and only show up where you can. Doing too much will quickly lead to burnout.
Make a budget for holiday spending. Finances are another thing that adds stress during the holiday season, so allocate an appropriate amount of money and stick to that.
The holidays can be an emotional time. Make sure you have someone to talk to, whether it’s a friend, family, or mental health professional. Make sure you TALK about what is going on.
Take some time for yourself. Do a hobby, find some solo time, or do whatever you need to do to help you recharge.
I know many of these things aren’t new, but if you’re anything like me, you can often feel like you just need someone else to tell you it’s ok. You may question and doubt yourself, but this is your permission to take care of YOU this holiday season. Create new traditions and get rid of those that no longer serve you.
Some decisions may be harder than others and you may be tempted to avoid conflict or discomfort rather than follow through, but remember that you can’t give to anyone if you don’t give to yourself first.
For any additional holiday reading, try out these previous posts as well: