Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Journey to Joy! As wonderful as the holiday season is, it can also be really, really hard on people. Today I want to take some time to address ways to take care of YOU during this season—despite what may be going on around you. I firmly believe that we can all not only survive this holiday season but also thrive during it.
About a year ago, I wrote a blog called How to Set Boundaries During the Holidays. I talk so much about boundary-setting during the holiday season because boundaries are so incredibly important. If you don’t set boundaries you end up frustrated, anxious, hurt, and disappointed (at yourself and others). When you set boundaries with others, you take care of yourself. You communicate your expectations, and how you want others around you to treat you. It may sound obvious, but setting boundaries are a form a self-care.
Sometimes this means saying things like “You will not be disrespectful to my spouse”, “Please do not curse in front of my children”, or “When you talk about my weight, it really hurts my feelings. Please do not bring this up again”. It can be communicating what you need from other people, or what you don’t need. Please don’t misunderstand—boundaries are not always received well by others. But they are your best shot at maintaining some sanity during the holiday season.
This can be really difficult, especially when it comes to family. There are some things during the holiday season that you may need to say no to. Remember, it’s not about making other people happy, or even getting them to understand. They may not. It’s about you taking care of yourself (again, another form of self-care).
I hear a lot of clients talk about Christmas being a marathon. If you have multiple places to go, it can end up being more stressful than enjoyable. Especially if you are watching the clock until it’s time to leave to go make your appearance at the next house.
Can I offer a suggestion? Maybe it’s time to say no to some things during the holidays. Maybe you need to pick one or two events that are really important to you and spend quality time with those individuals. Or maybe you stay home this year and rest and spend quality time with your immediate family. Perhaps you don’t pack the weekends with parties, events, and dinners.
If you battle being a people-pleaser even a tiny bit, the thought of saying no probably creates some anxiety for you. But it’s important that you make yourself and your immediate family the priority. It’s okay to say “We really want to see you this holiday season, but we just can’t make that work on that day”. You can then let them know that you won’t be attending this year, or you could ask to reschedule for a different day altogether. Remember, this season is about being with loved ones. That means it doesn’t have to happen all in one day, and sometimes you have to prioritize.
Avoid Toxic Situations
I know that the holidays can create a lot of anxiety for people because there are some toxic individuals and toxic situations in their families. If you feel like you are walking into a situation that is triggering, upsetting, or anxiety-provoking, it’s okay to take care of yourself. Maybe this means setting firmer boundaries. For example, I’ve worked with clients before on creating a code word with their spouse when they are ready to leave a family event because it starts to get a little dicey. I’ve also discussed setting a time limit with certain family members or meeting at a neutral location (like a restaurant) if it feels too uncomfortable to go to someone’s home. There are many boundaries you can put into place to take care of yourself with unhealthy people.
Sometimes the best way to avoid a toxic situation is to not put yourself in it. This is a decision that is probably best to discuss with a professional. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of what is healthiest for you.
Carve Out Time
It’s important to carve out time for yourself during the holiday season. Maybe you need to actually plan it on the calendar to make it happen. For example, plan a night to go drive around and look at Christmas lights, or plan a Christmas movie night at home with the kids. Don’t forget to plan a date night with your spouse during this time of year!
Take some time to recharge your batteries. Schedule a massage or do something that feels soul-filling. This season can be so incredibly stressful, so it’s important that you take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically. Exercise, go to yoga, go to therapy, go buy a nice bottle of wine. Whatever is self-care to you, DO IT.
As a therapist, it’s important to me that I practice what I preach. For that very reason, this will be the last blog for Journey to Joy for the next month. After blogging weekly for over a year now, I’m realizing that I need to take some time off for my own well-being and to curb some burnout. My hope is to take some time to travel, spend time with family and friends, and be truly present over the next 4 weeks. I look forward to getting you some fresh new blog material after the holidays.
This year has held so many blessings for both myself and Journey to Joy. I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to you, the readers, and to my clients and community referral sources. I pray this holiday season is restful, relaxing, and full of JOY. Merry Christmas!
*Christy Fogg, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist at Journey to Joy Counseling. Christy enjoys doing marriage/couples counseling, individual counseling, premarital counseling. She also provides family counseling, teen and adolescent counseling.
Journey to Joy Counseling serves the Indianapolis area, including Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.