Season’s Greetings Tomodotchi’s!
Are you ready for the holidays? From a young age we’re taught that this is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year. The flashy lights, the festive music and the media all tell us that we are supposed to feel a certain type of mood. However, we know that for most of us the holidays are full of stress, anxiety and potentially depression. This is why we wanted to write a post on how we personally manage stress and anxiety during the Holidays. We hope these tips provide you with a different perspective and ideas for your own mental wellness toolkit.
1. Acknowledge and prioritize yourself
First and foremost, we need to practice acknowledging our own feelings and making them a priority. There is no golden rule that says you have to be happy during this time of year (although it can certainly feel like there is!). So, to start, just know that it’s ok to not be happy during this time of year. We all have different situations that make this time of year hard. The stress of the crowds, the pressure of family, and the sadness of loss. There are countless reasons, so please just recognize that it’s ok to not be ok!
That being said, what can we do? Well first, free yourself of the burdens of the season. It’s ok to have a good cry and not to partake in traditional festivities. We don’t need to subscribe to the media’s portrayal of the nuclear family. Once you have the negative emotions released, think about what truly causes you stress, anxiety and depression during this season. It really helps to journal these feelings out. Once you have these triggers, set yourself some boundaries! It’s ok to not buy presents, go to that family gathering or cook a perfect meal. Afterall, how many holidays can you truly recall in your life? Can you remember every present you have ever received or every dish you ate? If you’re anything like us, the answer is no. In 3 months, no one will remember, so don’t put pressure on yourself to make things perfect!
2. Avoid the crowds and traffic
This trigger was actually what inspired this post. This week as we were grocery shopping, we were almost hit by other cars a total of 8 times in an hour! This was in a span of 3 miles from our house! It seems that during the holidays traffic rules don’t exist and common courtesy goes out the window. There is nothing more stressful than searching 3 hours for parking and then being thrust into a mob of people. All the while the mob is full of angry frustrated people yelling at one another… So much for the happiest time of year!
Our tips here would be to avoid driving in crowded areas as much as possible! Recognize that the crowds will not change and going is not worth it. In this day in age, there are so many different options for us to not have to deal with the crowds. You can shop online, use store to door-based apps or you can use ride share apps. If you know that a trigger for you is traffic and crowds, then get creative to avoid that trigger! If you are on a budget and need to drive yourself, then we would highly recommend going right when the stores open to avoid the crowds! For gifts, if you order online and it won’t arrive until after Christmas, then just accept this! The person receiving the gift will understand the delay and will just be happy to receive something later. Personally, we’ve received gifts from people in July and we are still just as happy. If traffic and crowds is an anxiety trigger, don’t put the pressure on yourself to just deal with it!
3. Don't subscribe to an idea!
For this, we like to remember the movie “A Christmas Story”, in which there is a scene where the neighbors dogs go and eat the family’s holiday dinner. The family is then forced to go to a Chinese restaurant (which to us sounds pretty dang good) and have duck for dinner. At first, they were disappointed and sad, but by the end of the scene they were all happy as a family!
But what does this story have to do with anything? Well, it’s to say, don’t worry about that ideal Rockwell portrait holiday. The anxiety and pressure we place on ourselves trying to get everything perfect takes its toll on our mind and body. Murphy’s law is a real thing and everything that can go wrong will, so we just need to take it in stride and pivot. Here we like to practice mindfulness and perspective. When things don’t go the way we planned, we like to take a deep breath and hold it. Then take a few seconds to release the breath. We do this a few times until the initial panic has subsided. Then we take the clarity to recognize that there is perfection in imperfection and we adjust our plans. Just be mindful to recognize that the world is not ending, everything will be fine and this will just be a fond memory later on.
4. Talk to a friend or professional
The last tip would be, if you know this time of year is full of anxiety and panic, then reach out to a friend or a trusted family member. We know it’s easy to feel like it’s you against the world, especially when you feel like an outcast compared to what the rest of “society” is doing, but a friend can help validate and understand you.
As we talked to different friends this season and asked them about their holiday plans, one thing became abundantly clear. The holidays depicted in the media was not what the majority of people were doing! Most people were having their holiday celebrations on different days, some weren’t doing anything at all and others were planning “untraditional” feasts.
The picture and message we are trying to paint here is, regardless of how you feel or what you do for the holiday, you are valid and there are a lot more people out there like you than you realize. Talk to a friend or a group and you’ll soon recognize that everything you feel is valid! Now, we know that not all our friends and family are supportive or validating of us. So, if you are in need of a group of like-minded supportive people, please join our Facebook group family. It’s a group of peers who support one another and help validate each other. You are always welcome!
Finally, if you need help, recognize that there are mental health professionals who can help. Whether you see a doctor or a therapist, they can help you through your toughest situations. Recognize that there is no weakness in getting help! We actually heard a quote from Dwayne Johnson recently. He said “Asking for help is not our weakness, it’s actually our superpower.” So please, just recognize that asking for help is not a weakness.
Wrapping it in a bow (pun intended!)
Ultimately, there are many things that can cause you anxiety or depression during the holidays. There is no golden rule that says you have to be happy during this time of year. Take the time to recognize your triggers during this time of year and set healthy boundaries to keep your mind strong. In the end, if you need help, it’s actually our superpower to be able to ask for help in times of need. Whatever your plans, we wish you a happy, healthy holiday season and just know that you have a friend in us.
For some other related posts, we wrote about some triggers this season itself may have on our wellbeing and some responses in turn. We also have a recent post on our personal self-care habits for improved mental health. Also, this season it’s also good to recognize how we may unintentionally cause anxiety in others, you can see our post on 5 ways we may do this here. Finally, for those who are having a particularly hard time, we have an open letter to those dealing with anxiety and depression, just to remind you how amazing you are.
This time of year is full of holiday and family stress and anxiety. Do no put the pressure on yourself to subscribe to a media ideal of what the season should be. Acknowledge your own feelings and set healthy boundaries and recognize there is perfection in imperfection.
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As an added bonus for our readers, we like to include a game of where are the Tomodotchi Pets. They’ve been hidden in 2 of the pictures within this post. Can you find them all? See below for what they look like!