With only sixteen days until Christmas, I can already hear the bickering, the storytelling, and the backhanded comments. I love my family, but the drama can be exasperating. I dislike the drama — and who doesn’t? In this week’s musing, I wanted to share some ways I prepare myself mentally for the inevitable.
Disclaimer – This week’s blog is a general self-help guide. And as a note to my family, what is written below may ruffle a feather or two, but please know that I love you all dearly.
#5 – Think Ahead
You know it is coming. What, you ask? The yearly onslaught of the holidays. And every year is the same. Perhaps you have that one aunt or uncle who seems to always stir up trouble with their gossip and half-truths. Moreover, the best way I have found to combat this inevitable occurrence of strife is to prepare my coping mechanisms in advance. Be sure that your methods of coping are readily available at all times. For me, it is my drawing and writing. For you, perhaps it is something else. Whatever your coping method, do not forget to pack them.
But seriously, when dealing with a gossiper or a storyteller of half-truths, it would be best to avoid the conversation. Do not – I repeat — Do not partake in the gossip; doing so will only embolden the gossiper to continue. And as someone who has been the subject of gossip, adding fuel to the fire will only lead to more despair.
#4 – Set Your Priorities and Stick To Them
As a Christian, remember the order of priority for your life.
- 1. Jesus
- 2. Spouse
- 3. Kids
- 4. Extended Family
With Jesus being your number one priority, work with your spouse to ensure your immediate family comes first. Remember that both of your parents and siblings are extended family, NOT your immediate family. Treating your extended family as such may come as a shock to them, especially if you have not done so in the past. But trust me, this is very important for you and your spouse (and kids if you have any). Your extended family will adapt. They must adapt.
And if necessary, it is OK to remind your parents and siblings how holidays were spent when they were children. Extenuating circumstances aside, I suspect their Christmas mornings were similar to mine. We were home on Christmas morning. Period. A visit to grandma’s house came later in the day or perhaps the weekend before/after the holiday.
#3 – Breathe
Studies have shown that “a person’s rapid breathing rate may trigger brain states like anxiety, or feeling states, like anger or fear.” In other words, when we are anxious or stressed, our breathing becomes more shallow and rapid — or something resembling hyperventilation. And for obvious reasons, this will have a negative impact on your health. However, we can lessen the effects if we slow down our breathing and take deeper, less shallow breaths. Additionally, taking deeper breaths lowers the heart rate, reducing your fight or flight response to anxiety.
Try one of these ten breathing exercises if you need some assistance in calming down.
#2 – Take Care of Yourself
This one could easily have been my number one way to prep for the holidays. With the stress of the holidays already weighing heavily on my psyche, I try to take some time for myself. The stress from the holidays is enough to get anyone down in the dumps. So be sure to take time for yourself to rest from the monotony and the humdrum.
Remember, you only have one you — so you best take care of yourself.
#1 – Journal / Write a Blog
I do not have many but Kristen Bell is one of my favorite actors. Appearing on the Podcast, theoffcamerashow in 2016, Kristen opened up about her family’s history with mental health and her struggles in the past to talk openly about depression.
Being open and honest about my struggles with depression has helped me to better my mental health. The more we talk about mental health, the more awareness we can bring to the forefront.
My number one way to prepare and battle depression over the holidays is to write. When I feel the pressure of the holidays, I grab a pencil and paper and start writing.
So for this holiday season, I challenge you to do the same. When stress hits, and it will, grab that pencil and paper and list down all the good in your life.
But Jackie, there is no good in the world.
Trust me, and it may be hard to see at first, but you can find good in the world if you endeavor to seek it out. There are good people in the world. Sometimes you have to dig deep but they are there. And when you find them, latch on and show them the love of God which is exuding from you. God is good — God is love. Take solace in knowing that He is always there.
If things go as planned, I hope to produce even more content over the next three weeks. I do hope that you come along for the journey.
And if you are interested in creating your own blog let me know. And in this age of everything being online and digital, I can also help you to create a personal and private online journal. Let me know, I can help. Drop me a note here.
Finally, a personal note to my extended family. I love you all dearly. But please know that if I wander off to another room, it is not because I do not love you. With my depression and general poor mental health, there will be times when I must walk away. And when drama arises, I will bid adieu, and back away quickly from the conversation.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.
Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Used by Permission HCSB ©1999,2000,2002,2003,2009 Holman Bible Publishers. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.