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Mental Health

How to Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season

It can be a lot of fun to reconnect with family and friends over the holidays, whether you exchange gifts or just spend time together. It’s a great feeling when you have the ability to make someone you care about happy. However, all these social interactions and family bonding sessions can be quite draining after a while if you’re as introverted as I am. Here are some strategies I’ve come up with over the years for surviving the holidays and staying sane!

I often try and opt for some less socially demanding activities. Going to see a movie in the theater together is a great example. A whole two hours you don’t have to talk, imagine that! But seriously, a bunch of good films usually come out over the holiday season, so there’s bound to be something that piques your interest enough to convince your party to go see. You’re still spending time together, but you don’t have to expend too much of your energy coming up with new topics of discussion with family members that you see maybe twice a year.

Big family dinners are usually anxiety-inducing enough. There’s always that one grandparent with problematic political opinions or that one relative who keeps asking if you have a boyfriend (little do either of them know you’re queer as heck—in my case, at least!). My one piece of advice here is to try and steer the conversation completely clear of personal and political issues. Talk instead about that movie you saw together or a book you just read. Even the same boring dialogue you can stage with just about anyone about what you’re doing in school is good enough. Anything you can do to keep the table calm and uneventful; we’ve all had impassioned arguments with relatives about topics big and small, I’m sure, and nobody needs to go through that! (Although, I would obviously be doing a disservice if I told you not to call out people on problematic stuff just because it’s the holidays. Proceed with caution, my friend!)

In my opinion, the smaller the group of people you’re with, the better. Of course, this is not possible for folks with larger families, but I think when there are fewer people gathering, the ones you’re closest to and most comfortable with tend to be the ones who stick around. No need to put on a social show for people you see all the time, right? Don’t feel pressured to invite every family member and friend you’ve ever known to dinner. Just a handful is plenty meaningful, I think, and much more manageable for introverts.  

This is probably my most important tip: take some time to be alone. Curl up in bed with your laptop and some hot chocolate and watch some Netflix or something. Do whatever you need to in order to recharge. The holidays are exhausting, no matter how much you love the people around you. There’s no shame in closing your door early for the night, as long as you make some sort of a social effort some other time. Don’t worry about it, do what you gotta do!

You are the most important person in your life; take some time for yourself this holiday season!

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Ellie is a third-year English major with a minor in Cinema & Media Studies. When she is not busy cramming four years of college into three, one can usually find her binge-watching the latest Netflix obsession or reading novels of all genres. Someday she hopes to get a novel of her own out into the world.
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