Sometimes the Holidays Suck

The holiday season can really suck. My family is by no means a dysfunctional one, but I can’t deny that the holidays usually leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Feel the same way as me? Keep reading on to find out how I personal cope with the fraught activities of the holiday season.

Drama

It’s pretty much inevitable that someone will say something in poor taste over the holidays, often related to politics. As someone with strong opinions, I usually try to keep quiet. This is not always the best policy, and I’ve had it go awry before. For the most part, I try to stay out of it. It’s not easy, and sometimes you need to go hide and cry for a little while. But the holidays are just a few days out of the year, and I usually just try to push through it. If someone says something that really can’t be ignored, be calm and polite (I know, that’s easier said than done). Emphasize that you’re not angry (even if you are) and don’t get drawn into an extended debate. Say your piece and leave it at that.  

Death

This year will be the second holiday season spent without my cousin, uncle, and grandmother, all of whom died within a short period of each other. It’s hard to gather family for the holidays and not notice the gaps. For me, the death of my cousin was particularly traumatic. Especially around Thanksgiving, I find myself overwhelmed with grief. I wish I had an easy way to overcome this one, but all I can say is that grief is best coped with my celebrating the person’s life and honoring them by living as they would want you to. It’s okay to acknowledge their loss and admit your grief. The holidays are a time for celebration. Find meaning in those you still have and celebrate the good things in life. Grief is an inevitable part of the holidays, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming.

Food

As a recovering anorexic, food isn’t a pleasant subject for me. For the most part, I don’t want to think about eating. But both sides of my family treat food as pretty much the biggest part of all holidays. It makes me dread the holidays each year. Inevitably, I end up stuffing myself and feeling like absolute garbage. I by no means have a perfect solution to this, but my method of coping is usually to wear something that hides the shape of my body and to distract myself as much as possible. As best as you can, avoid thoughts about the nutritional contents of the food because pretty much nothing you’ll be eating over the holidays is healthy. Chat with people to keep your mind off the food. Basically, try to ignore the fact that everyone around you is focusing on the food and try to direct your attention elsewhere.

Take a Break

Step outside and take a deep breath. Calm down. As an introvert, I get drained quickly at parties and I usually need some time away. You can try to take this time with a family member or two that you enjoy the company of, or you can be alone. Don’t feel bad. It doesn’t matter if you only see these people once or twice a year. Take time for yourself and don’t push yourself too hard. It’s okay to relax, even if it doesn’t feel like it.  

(Unhealthy) Last Resorts

My last suggestion is perhaps not the wisest one on this list, but I would argue that unhealthy coping mechanisms are okay for a day or two when things are at their worst. Get a little tipsy (but watch yourself, because getting overly drunk is how the holidays turn even more sour). Smoke a little weed (if it’s legal in your state). Isolate yourself and hide in the cold outdoors where no one else wants to go. Don’t go overboard on this one, but use unhealthy measures sparingly as needed.