Preserving Your Mental Health During The Holidays

I am not a big fan of the holidays. The consumerism, the commercialism, the obligatory gift giving, and the forced cheer is draining and mentally exhausting. Not to mention, there is nothing like being in the presence of your family to exacerbate your family-related anxieties.
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Pretending to be excited about ODing on sugar cookies and spending money on co-workers I barely know all in the name of JC’s birthday has never made much sense to me. Bah Humbug. I am sufficiently fulfilled by watching movies like Love Actually; I don’t need to act it out in my own life. But, my disdain and Scrooge-like attitude is not embraced by most of western society and would NEVER be tolerated by my family. So every year my balls of steel shrink up and I turn into a mild mannered, cheery, daughter for The Season. I sacrifice my holiday-specific bad attitude so that my family can fully soak up the seasonal cheer, but it is not easy. For almost the entire month of December my mental health is in jeopardy. By the time the 31st rolls around I am lucky if I am not walking around in a fog, muttering STFU (code for ‘shut the fuck up’) under my breath to all twelve voices in my head.

On the off chance that you too loathe the holiday season (for whatever reason), I have prepared a brief list of coping mechanisms that I have found to be particularly helpful around this time of year. This action plan helped me survive Christmas last year with my platonic life mate’s family in bum-fuck-Wyoming. Nothing will test the effectiveness of a coping strategy like being trapped with chatty Kathies for six hours in a cramped car on ice roads.

Set a budget and stick to it
Financial stress can seriously fuck with your mojo. It can also hinder your ability to rock a really convincing (fake) smile and holiday-cheer induced attitude. Most people don’t actually appreciate the presents they receive; they just get angry and feel neglected if they don’t get the token gift they feel entitled to by The Season. So create a budget, don’t break the bank, and as soon as you have hit your spending earmark, call it a day and wash your hands of the situation. Pontius Pilate was guilt-free and you can be too.

Drink in moderation
Better yet, don’t drink at all; your tolerance will drop a bit after a few days dry and then you can really go crazy for New Years. When in stressful situations where I am forced to take on a fake persona and act like I am enjoying myself (when in actuality I am two steps shy of miserable), my first inclination is always to post up near the alcohol to ‘take off the edge’ and dull the utter suckiness of the situation. Wrong. When you are in the lion’s den it is important to have your wits about you. Alcohol magnifies emotions and you don’t want your true feelings to slip out as you get maudlin at the bar. Be vigilant. Save the boozy for the New Years Holiday Survival Celebration.

Buddy up
You aren’t alone. Family by definition is crazy, so don’t feel like you are the only person out there whose family celebration could be a script for a holiday disaster movie. Talk with your partner or a close friend about your feelings. Talking helps us process and then let go of anger, resentment, and all those other healthy emotions that can get stirred up during a fun, old-fashioned, family Christmas. Unlimited text messaging can be a life saver. Text messaging can be furtive and surreptitious, making it much easier to vent without having to look over your shoulder and keep a constant eye out for the subject of your bitch session.

Make time for yourself
You can’t have your game locked tight if you don’t have some alone time to decompress. Make time for yourself. Everyone needs downtime.

-Ms. Skeptical

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