It’s almost time for Thanksgiving, signaling the start of the holiday season. While Hallmark movies and TV commercials emphasize family joy and togetherness, the reality is far less jolly for many people. If the merry jingles and festive gatherings make you wish you could hibernate until spring, take solace in knowing you’re not alone in your holiday hesitation.
Societal Joy vs. Personal Strain
The heavy weight of societal expectations during the holidays can shape a mold that feels impossible to fit, and the gap between “should” and “is” can lead to feelings of defeat. It’s not just the cultural pressure – personal triggers abound, from family dynamics to the pangs of loss and the pinch of financial stress.
For some, holiday angst can evoke childhood memories of exclusion or amplify current insecurities and losses. Between the perceived universal happiness on social media and the focus on romantic partnerships, your single or grieving status can feel magnified. Not to mention, nearly one in four people feel financially burdened by the holidays.
Holiday Self-Care: The Three Bs for a Balanced Season
Transitioning from “Bah, humbug” to channeling your inner Buddy the Elf may not be in the cards, but finding ways to alleviate holiday stress is within reach. Whether it’s through self-compassion, deflecting intrusive questions with prepared neutral responses or reframing negative self-talk, small strategies can have a significant impact.
When you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, remember this three-pronged approach: balance, boundaries and breaks. Crafting a holiday experience that includes what you want – not necessarily what others pressure you to do – is essential. Setting boundaries could mean choosing to stay home and relaxing instead of going to a big family dinner. Remember, opting out to protect your mental health and stay on track with your addiction recovery goals is not selfish.
Embracing the Holidays on Your Terms
Ultimately, navigating the holiday season is about understanding and honoring your needs. Incorporating planned pauses can prevent burnout and maintain emotional equilibrium. It’s about crafting a holiday experience that aligns with your well-being, even if that means breaking from traditional festivities.
As we sail through the final months of 2023, let’s challenge the conventional narrative of the holiday season. It’s OK to rewrite the script and spend the holidays in a way that brings you peace, even if that means stepping away from family gatherings. Your mental health is the priority, and how you choose to spend this season is valid, worthy and yours to define.
The holidays can be the most challenging time of year for people who struggle with substance abuse and mental health disorders. Contact Hope by the Sea today for your customized recovery plan.