The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy. All you have to do is turn on the radio, and you’re encouraged to be “merry and bright.” Turn on the TV and stories of holiday cheer and ads full of fun and frolic are on every channel. Go online, and website after website promote the latest gifts or tips on how to make this season the best one yet!
But, what if you’re not feeling so jolly? The unsaid truth is that, while the season is one of wonder and merriment, it can also be one of stress, grief and a variety of other emotions. If you’re less than 100% merry this holiday season… you’re not alone.
When you’re struggling through infertility, experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, wrestling with pregnancy trauma, or grieving the unbearable loss of an infant, stillborn or miscarriage, the thought of keeping yourself together for the holidays can be daunting. Below are six tips though to help you – and your loved ones – find and experience some peace this holiday season.
Keep it simple, not perfect. Yes, you may want to do all the things but going overboard with anything—gifts, holiday hosting, decorating, you name it—is only going to serve one purpose: to stress you out. Which, when you’re already feeling vulnerable, will exasperate the situation. So, embrace the simple pleasures of the holidays. Not enough energy to hang lights up this year? Instead, drive the family to find lights in the neighborhood. Usually send out hundreds of holiday cards? Send out an e-mail instead. If there’s a way to make your holidays simpler and your to-do list shorter, embrace it.
Fight FOMO (fear of missing out). You may resist keeping things simple because of other children in the home or your other loved ones. You fear they may be missing out on the magic of the holidays. But, think about it—some of your childhood memories are likely the simple things like eating cookies and drinking hot chocolate or watching a holiday classic film. It’s the little moments, not the big, that make the holidays special.
Don’t forget your own mental health. Maybe you see a professional like myself to talk about your issues. Maybe you attend a support group. While the holidays are busy, don’t forget to keep up with your appointments and mental health care.
Ask for help. If you need help this holiday season, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your loved ones. Accepting help may be hard, but it’s a great way to get them involved in holiday preparations, too. (And, more than likely, they want to help, they just don’t know how.) You know how good it feels to find and give the perfect gift? How fun it is to make cookies from scratch? Allow your loved ones to experience these things, too.
Don’t be afraid to say “no.” During this busy season, you’ll likely be invited to many occasions, asked to volunteer at events for different groups, or one of a million things. If you know a particular event will be hard or make you sad/mad/anxious/you know it, don’t be afraid to graciously say no. “No, thank you” is a complete sentence, not needing an explanation. If you feel you need to give one, just claim you’re busy this holiday season – everyone will understand!
Allow yourself time and space. While it’s easier said than done, schedule time and space this holiday season to allow yourself to feel the emotions you need to feel and process. Emotions within themselves aren’t bad or wrong, they just are. If you’re grieving a loss, maybe start a personal holiday traditional where you honor the loss in a special way like a special ornament or prayer. Whether it’s an hour or a day here or there, give yourself time and space to just be.
The holidays can be just as stressful as they can be magical, but I hope these tips help you to relax and do your best to pull through this one-of-a-kind time of year.
Kim Kriesel, MSC, LAC, NCC
Locations in the East Valley (Telehealth Sessions also available)
Contact me directly at (480) 319-4413 or email@example.com.
For more information, visit www.wellmamas.net