Holiday triggers and How to cope with them

It’s the most wonderful time of the year  🎶…but is it? At least we’d like to think it is. The reality is that the holidays, as joyous and festive as they may be, are not the easiest of seasons for some of us.

This time of year comes with many pressures - financial, emotional, spiritual - and it’s a time where we can experience different triggers and anxieties as we are expected to attend events, interact with different family members and community and be as present and as positive as possible.

Feelings of loneliness during the holidays

While gatherings are known to be the theme for the holidays, many of us may not have the opportunity to spend them with others.

Many of us may not have contact with family members or community, have moved away from home, started school or work in new places, and are often left to spend the holiday season alone. 

In order to feel more supported during this time, it’s important to set a structured schedule of activities in order to stay busy and rested. You can consider redecorating or reorganizing your space to create a refreshing sense of renewal.

If your family and friends live far from you, make sure you’ve scheduled time for video calls to help lift your mood. 

If possible, I invite you to sign up to  a local holiday event or volunteer in order to create a sense of community. Co-regulating with community can be so helpful in managing feelings of loneliness. Your nervous system will love you for it!

Family triggers and anxieties

With so many events and gatherings, it’s possible for anxieties to come as we prepare to meet family and community with whom we have limited or no contact. 

These feelings can come from the effort of maintaining conversation, avoiding awkward discussion or attempting to bypass unwanted questions and comments.

Family members may also feel the need to bring up certain topics, questions or disagreements that can be triggering. As a result, feelings of anger, hurt or frustration can come up at that time.

Here are some reminders that I hope can help you get through those tough situations: 

  1. It’s okay to attend for only a limited time (a couple of hours, the dinner or stopping by briefly)
  2. You can attend and stay close to a trusted friend or a family member who can help ensure you’re feeling comfortable. 
  3. If it feels too difficult to be in those spaces, it’s also okay to apologize to the host and not attend altogether.
  4. Choose to keep busy and giving yourself some breathing space by offering to wash dishes, spend time playing with children at the gatherings, taking short supportive calls from a friend 
  5. Choose to have an after gathering care plan, this can include your favorite practices to rest, pre-schedule a call with a trusted friend to vent, movement! 

Money triggers

All of our financial situations vary, and the requirements of attending events, partaking financially or buying presents is not always a privilege afforded to everyone. 

Let’s face it, the holiday season is often expensive, even for those who celebrate with enthusiasm.

It can help you tremendously if you take time to consider what your budget is, or ask to attend and contribute differently, like making special cards/gifts, thrift and vintage shops (best thoughtful and sustainable gifts, in my opinion), helping with preparations or meals. Setting your boundaries (with yourself and others!) in advance is a great way to establish honesty and transparency with those you will spend time with during the holidays.

Remember, it’s okay for unpleasant feelings to come up from time to time. You are human, your feelings are valid and a festive and joyous season can still bring about some difficult emotions. You will get through it!

Sending you all the love, care and support this holiday season.

Until next time!