--Or, 5 Ways to Survive the Holidays--
Christmas is upon us. I've been feeling it for a few weeks already. This year, our Thanksgiving was filled with friends and activities. Three feasts to be exact. It was lovely (and filling) but the signpost on the calendar of tough times to come.
I can't say it's all bad because during this time is my daughter's birthday, but that one big day was coming up. The elephant in the room that I don't want to face. Christmas.
Living abroad is not all piña coladas on the beach (in fact, there is no beach here. We're in the fly-over country of Argentina). There are real struggles. With language, with culture, with homesickness.
I wrote about my personal struggles during the holidays last year as well.
Homesickness is the very worst for me during this time of year.
While I love the summer, summer produce, the pool and lazy vacation days, I do NOT like celebrating Christmas when it is hot. It feels wrong on so many levels. I struggle to create traditions for my daughters when it is an atmosphere so different than how both my husband and I grew up.
Lots of people struggle during the holidays, whether it is from missing the ones you love because of physical or emotional distance, or because of death, divorce or other family struggles. The holidays are hard.
What we can do is try to be gentle with ourselves during this difficult time and find ways to treat ourselves kindly.
- Know your triggers. Mine are certain Christmas songs and Skype calls. I can't get through them without crying. My best advice is to avoid them when you can (I hear the first notes of "I'll be Home for Christmas" and I skip to the next song) or keep Skype calls brief and on subjects other than missing home. Not saying there won't be tears, but the might be kept to a minimum.
- Get away when you can. Know when you need a break and take it. Go for a walk, journal in private, lock yourself in your room for a bit if needed. Sensory overload and overwhelm is common during the holidays. Sneak away and take some time to re-center.
- Avoid foods/drinks that can make you feel worse. Foods have a huge emotional impact and when you are already feeling vulnerable, that extra piece of pie or glass of wine will not make you feel better. Keep with a clean diet, drink a ton of water and keep caffeine and alcohol to a minimum.
- Sleep. I know there is a lot going on: From wrapping presents, to the office party, to getting the tree set up. None of these is worth sacrificing sleep (said the night owl that is often awake past 1 AM. I need to listen to my own advice!)
- Prepare for the stressful times. Treat yourself to a bath, a massage, practice yoga or meditation, exercise or whatever works for you. Settle your mind in any way that you can before the times that are going to be the hardest for you.
- Open up about your struggles. Talk to those you love and trust. Be honest that this time is difficult. They can help be the shoulder you cry on, or the one you sneak away with to take that walk (see #2). Once you share, you might just find that others are struggling, too.
*If you are experiencing depression (more than holiday blues) please seek professional help ASAP. Talk to your doctor or other trusted person who can help you get the assistance you need. I struggled with depression for years. Medication and light therapy helped substantially but I know the darkness of undiagnosed depression and how difficult that first step can be. You can do it.
PEACE AND BLESSINGS TO YOU ALL.
Wishing you HAPPY HOLIDAYS and a WONDERFUL 2015 TO COME!!!
Lisa, Brad, Geneva and Franca