Canada’s Thanksgiving day already happened. In the United States we are coming up on the Holiday blitz – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years followed by Valentine’s day. After my third year in counseling, my therapist pointed out how I wiped out each Holiday season. Well I am consistent in something. I learned to plan ahead for the Holiday onslaught.
First, I acknowledge that this is a hard time of the year for me. Triggers on top of triggers slam into me.
Second, it comes around every year…..have you noticed that too? Annual holidays happen every single year – Well one year I took a break from some of the Holidays. Seriously, I refused all invitations made no decorations, nothing – zip – NADA. Weirdly, giving myself permission to refuse to have anything to do with the Holiday helped me enjoy it the following year.
It comes every year, like clock work or calendar work. First, Halloween with hauntings and triggers galore. Followed by Thanksgiving with demands for the perfect meal and a ‘happy family’ without resolving old hurts. Then infamous/famous Christmas with expectations bigger than the National Christmas tree….do we even get a national tree any more?
Prepare my toolbox of coping skills I’ve learned….in my box I have:
Acceptance that I am not perfect….I don’t need to be. In fact, I can’t be. That is OK.
Best laid plans can fall apart. I will survive plans falling apart.
(NEW) Someone else can plan things and they can do a wonderful job without me being less because I didn’t do it.
Have an exit plan on hand for different situations. Practice exit phrases….”I loved being here but I am leaving now.” Know where the exit doors are located and start moving towards them before I panic.
Or don’t go in the first place….. “The evening sounds lovely I am sorry I won’t be attending.” I don’t need to explain that I am sitting in front of my Christmas tree sipping hot chocolate.
Prioritize activities. Not all activities are #1.
Skip some traditions…. It doesn’t stop being a tradition if I don’t do it one year.
Not having some detail completed is not the end of the World.
NO is a complete sentence.
I do not need to explain my choices unless I choose to.
Breathe…..feeling blue breathe.
MMV (learned this from my sister) Mental Mini Vacations. Emotionally escape to a deserted island where there is no holiday madness. Picture myself on a beach sipping coconut juice.
Hit the pause button, allow myself to go outside, find a private space to be alone, hang out with just one or two people.
Letting go means I don’t need to fix it or think about it any more.
Some people will flip out during the Holidays and it is not about me. NOTHING I do will stop their behavior because it is not about me.
Remember that emotional black mail is still black mail. I am not ‘mean’, ‘cruel’, or ‘going to hell’ if I don’t meet someone else’s expectations.
Crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head is an acceptable activity as needed.
Call a friend or have a text buddy to check in with during stressful events that I choose to attend.
Change all my ‘can’ts’ and ‘have-tos’ to I choose to do___________________. I don’t enjoy ___________________but I am choosing to do it anyway because some other need is being met that I may not understand myself. No one is holding a gun to my head. It may feel like it but that is probably emotional black mail…refer to emotional black mail above.
Christ is my Savior and as far as historians can figure out He was born in April any way.
Make choices with my happiness in my mind. I enjoy doing things for others and I am happy doing things for them….that is part of my happiness equation.
(NEW) I am not responsible for other people’s happiness. Happiness is an inside job and I have enough on my plate teaching me to be happy during the holidays.
(NEW) It is OK to be super excited and dread Christmas at the same time. I call it being bi-North-Polar.
(Newest) If I know something about the Holidays is a trigger, change it. Make new traditions.
People in my life do not have the right to trample on my boundaries just because it is a Holiday and they want everything PERFECT so you must do _________________. Refusing to meet their need for perfection is a healthy choice.
Changing my mind about an activity is OK. Just because I felt like I could do something a week ago when I RSVP’ed, doesn’t mean that event is cut in stone. I can change my mind and call to let the host know I am not coming. NO explanation is required.
I can add to this list at any time…..anyone want to share their coping techniques?
More links to help with planning for the Holidays.
Preparing to be with Family…..
From Love Our Vets: