We are a week away from the holiday kickoff, Thanksgiving the grandaddy of family gatherings portrayed by commercials and magazines with smiling faces, laughter, food and pure joy is sometimes exactly the opposite for some. There are those like myself who recently lost a parent who has spent years at the dinner table or those who are single and living far away or estranged from relatives, and others who might be homeless or without enough money to make dinner who are sharing a table at a soup kitchen with strangers. The numbers rise with depression around the holidays and we need to be cognizant of our triggers and mindful in checking on others who may not have #thanksgivingwithblackfamilies to look forward to.
Here are a few suggestions on how to make it through the holidays:
- Create Family Ties. I lost my father early last year so last year was my first holiday season with out him so I brought my tree uncharacteristically early, decorated the house early and set a date to have a holiday game night soiree with friends and host a gift exchange Christmas party for the toddlers. I set the mood and tone for happy really early, I made sure that my kids felt surrounded by the love of friends who were welcome to stop by chat and eat at any given moment.
- Keep or Create Your Exercise Routine While not everybody gets excited about working out this time of year is extremely important not to let exercise fall to the wayside especially if you’re prone to depression. Exercise is known to boost energy, reduce stress and improve your mood significantly plus there will be that much less guilt for indulging on all that good food.
- Connect with People Its so easy to feel connected when we are following FB posts, IG and snaps to feel as if you are having true relationships with friends but log off and make a call, write a letter or plan a date and keep it. Human interaction is essential to healthy happy living.
- Be realistic Don’t stress yourself out trying to host and cook an entire meal, make everybody’s party or buy the best gifts or have the cleanest home. Who needs the stress related to trying to get everything done to perfection or breaking the bank trying to do the most. Give yourself a break, know your limits and when you have to, say no.
- Acknowledge Your Feelings I am totally writing this to myself because I can compartmentalize a feeling as though its an Olympic Sport and its not healthy. I am slowly learning how to allow myself to feel, to cry, to miss and I am better for it. I am still learning what that would look like to do so in front of my children but it is healthy and necessary. If you are missing your parent, spouse, loved one as a result of death or distance share that feeling with someone or at the very least say it to yourself.
- Hydrate This is a no brainer and a necessity all year long, however through the dry Winter months, your skin, hair and body need water. Many folks also hit the Coquito and other alcoholic beverages a little harder during the holidays so stay hydrated.
- Don’t Front Or Bite Your Tongue If what stresses you out is that you do have the typical #thanksgivingwithblackfamilies type of foray coming up and you are tired of folks asking when you guys are going to get married, have babies, or they are talking down to you about your weight, appearance or life choices be firm in exerting your magic and defending yourself. I know we all want to keep peace at the dinner table but don’t let people walk all over you or disrespect you, say your piece respectfully and move on so that you don’t carry around the weight of their words into the week.
There are so many things we can do to protect our mind body and soul and it all revolves around remembering to do things that make you happy and that encourage all around health. What are some things you do to care for yourself during the holiday season?