To Be TRIGGERED At Holiday Functions
Tis' the Season
By Amanda Salazar
The weather is cooling down, the days are getting shorter and the holiday season is getting closer and closer. While the holidays can bring people a lot of cheer through spending time with loved ones and gift-giving, it can also bring a lot of stress.
With obligatory family dinners, work parties, and gift exchanges, plus travel and overstimulating décor, the autumn and winter holidays can leave people feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and less than cheerful.
“The holidays bring a lot of expectations,” clinical psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere told Preferred Health Magazine in an interview. “Having to be at events, even if people are going through some sort of a situation where they may not be prepared for all of these social events, or perhaps they feel that they’re invited to too many events and are trying to please everyone, which is impossible to do.”
The weight of these perceived expectations can be felt even more strongly by people who are already dealing with stress or social anxiety or who are grieving a loss. People struggling with mental health, body image, or substance use issues may also feel more pressure during the holidays due to expectations around eating and drinking at family and social gatherings.
Happy to help us stave off those triggers, Dr. Gardere shared some tips to deal with the stressors of the holiday season:
1. Pick and choose which events you go to. You may be invited to many get-togethers during the season, but you’re not obligated to attend them all. Go to the few you value the most and send your regrets to others.
2. Make sure everyone pulls their weight. If you’re hosting an event, delegate the work by making it a potluck and assigning people cleanup and setup roles.
3. Set rules of respect. If your family often gets into heated debates over politics or other topics, it can be beneficial to set ground rules about listening to each other and communicating in a non-aggressive way.
4. You don’t have to spend a ton to give a good gift. The best gifts are thoughtful and often homemade, like photo albums. For kids, you can give a group gift that they can use together, instead of getting a present for each child. The goal is to give a meaningful gift, not an expensive one.
5. Take care of yourself. Make time for rest — which can be more than just a full night’s sleep.
If you already see a therapist or take medication for mental health, be sure to continue attending appointments and following medication regimens.
“It’s been a very tough time for everyone coming out of COVID and the divisive politics,” Dr. Gardere said. “Maybe this is a time for people to come together and find their commonalities within families or communities, volunteer to help one another, be much more hopeful, and do our best to bring joy and cheer, because we need it now more than ever.”