And as well the most exhausting time of the year. Just think about it, about all the gifts, family dinners, friends’ nights, about all the small talk and the preparations needed in order to make a good figure. Yes, it’s Christmas time…again. And this could be pretty tiresome for some of us.
But Christmas, as any other big celebration, could be as much of a festive time if you’ve had a rough period mentally as it is for the others. You just have to set some limits for yourself and for the others.
I tend to call this eating the dessert first, because just like that, it puts me in a good place, mentally speaking. This, outside the kitchen, means that I begin every festive season with the things that I genuinely like doing.
Treasure-hunting for the prettiest gifts I could think of, decorating the house, helping mom with the cooking. These are the dessert when I speak of household chores.
When it comes to people, however, things tend to get complicated, as I know for a fact that there are people that I can’t really avoid. And, as in every story, they tend to be exactly the nosey relatives I’d give anything to get rid of, at least for a while.
As I cannot, though, this made me sit a bit longer with myself and analyze the whole context. To see what exactly bothers me when it comes to them, and how much I can be in control of that. Surprisingly, I’ve discovered that they don’t bother me as human beings, as I really love them and I can actually enjoy spending time with them, but the problems tend to appear whenever they begin with their old interrogatory.
I’ve also noticed that the greatest amount of discomfort appears when they try to get to my personal life sphere (maybe because, before being a person who struggles with a pretty rough period, I’m also an introvert). For you the no-no domain might be your professional life, or maybe your health.
It is important, crucial to identify the domain that you’d prefer to avoid talking about, and especially why you don’t want to. This might be helpful to your growth, as knowing more and more about yourself tends to be.
The second and the public part, however, involves finding your formula. The go-to line, always ready to be served in a talk, when they tend to be uncomfortably nosey. It doesn’t have to be offensive in order to be effective, a simple It just wasn’t my year can make wonders, as it offers an answer and signaling them that you’re not comfortable in sharing details.
If I’d have to say which is the ‘dessert’ part when it comes to holiday visits, I’d say that it involves catching up first with your dearest ones. We all have that cousin, or that high-school friend that we simply adore, but we are awful at synchronizing with. Well, this is the best time to go and pay them a visit first, or make that phone call we always postpone for whenever we’ll have a bit more free time.
It could also be someone from the past that we dearly miss and with whom we’d love to catch up again. The Christmas gives us the perfect reason to share a kind thought with them.
But, if you need a bit more help than this, here you have a list with my golden tricks for living the Christmas magic while keeping my mental health as good as possible:
- Do something for yourself daily
Yes, holidays tend to be a break in our usual life rhythm. You can adapt easier to this break if you do something you love for the sake of it daily. It could be sitting in bed with a hot mug beside you and a movie, a good bath, whatever helps you. This also helps recharging after every visit that could’ve been exhausting or annoying. Small acts of kindness still matter.
- Don’t guilt trip
I don’t know how things are in your community, but here Christmas involves a looot of food. Tasty, fat and hypercalorical food, in insane amounts. And every family has that one member that gets upset if they see that you haven’t finished your plate.
If you’re anything like me, you know how guilty this makes you feel. You get to feel guilty eitherway, even if you give no damn about how much or what are you eating, or if you choose to say no to auntie’s next course. So just choose what’s best for you, instead of trying to fit everywhere and please everybody.
- Remember your good parts
Holidays tend to be rough, and they often make us feel unworthy, as we tend to compare ourselves to others more than in the rest of the year. To diminish that feeling of unworthiness, it could help you if you keep a gratitude diary, to state daily a good part of being you and a thing that you are really, really grateful about. It always helps me keep it real, as I remember constantly who am I and what I did good so far.
Holiday meetings should never put us into a competition with our loved ones.
- Celebrate your own way
As I was stating above, part of the game is keeping it real to yourself. This means that it’s ok if you get all hyped up by the Christmas spirit since November, but it’s also ok if you don’t feel moved by all the red-glittery-bright-lights thing. It’s ok if you feel like you should lose contact with some people, even if they are related to them, or if you don’t feel like being the life of any party or visit. It is just as good if you choose to live as in any other day of the year, as if you’d choose to go all-in with the festive thing.
You just have to make your own choices, and this is the most important thing to understand. That having a poor mental health, or maybe just an introverted type of personality shouldn’t make you the try-hard person, who tries to fit in anyone else’s but his own standards and ideas. That is fine to celebrate your own way, and is just as fine if you won’t celebrate at all.
- Ask for help
Yes, it might be the case. It doesn’t sound pretty, but the holidays bring a huge wave of depression and suicidal thoughts. Ask for help if you feel that your best is not enough to keep you safe. It might be your mom, your best friend, a therapist or maybe someone you deeply and genuinely admire. Don’t hesitate, don’t think that you’ll be ruining their holidays, just reach out. It would hurt them way more to know that they won’t see you smiling anymore because you were too afraid that you could ruin the Christmas dinner if you’ll be honest with them. Please, remember that, even if you might not feel like it, the world is a better place because you’re a part of it.
And if you notice changes in a loved person’s behaviour, be brave enough to talk openly to them. You can never know how much of a difference a hug and some kind words can do in someone’s life.
With this being said, let’s enjoy the Christmas holidays our own way, all while we keep caring for our and our loved ones mental health. Merry Christmas, wherever you’d be, and whatever this would mean for you!