Anxiety and Preparing for the Holidays

Little reindeer hiding among the green branches and twinkling lights concealing chocolate kisses in their mouths. Sitting on the floor whilst listening to my Grandpatta read. Buying or making gifts for friends and family. Snow lightly covering the ground, though never on the right days.

I grew up celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. I never really celebrated Halloween and am mostly unfamiliar with Ramadan, Hanukkah, and the other major holidays and celebrations that take place this time of the year. One of my goals over the next few years/over my lifetime is to learn more about the various holidays and the cultures that celebrate them.

Just that desire is one sign of just how much I’ve changed over the last few years, and I’m excited about who I’ve become and who I’m becoming. As a result of these changes, I’ve started celebrating Halloween, stopped liking traditional Thanksgiving, and become even more obsessed with Christmas.

Traditions can change over the years. Turner and I spend Thanksgiving eating traditional Native American recipes (or as close as we can get to making them traditional) and learning about different Native tribes. Being pescatarian makes eating some of their tradition food nearly impossible to eat, but we’re learning how to make substitutes that make sense for the cultures as well as occasionally just swapping in meat substitutes, like seitan or tofu. But we’re trying to stay as close to the recipes as we can.

Everything from planning the food and decorating to buying gifts and deciding who to spend the holidays with can cause extreme amounts of anxiety. Planning fancier meals and ensuring that it fits into your budget is stressful enough, but if you’re having people over or celebrating multiple times it can be worse because of needing to take into account dietary restrictions, food preferences, and numbers of people.

I find decorating stressful because of wishing I had more supplies and festive decor, but I don’t have money in my budget for getting any more. I’ve also witnessed people get overwhelmed because of wanting everything to be perfect for guests.

Getting presents is much the same as planning the meals. The budgeting, the personal preferences, the number of people. It all adds up so quickly. And if you’re like me, just getting one person a gift can be difficult, let alone friends, family, in-laws, and potentially coworkers.

The most stressful part for everyone is probably deciding who to spend the holidays with and where. This stress can be for a myriad of reasons, including the physical distances between you and your loved ones, religious differences, current and/or past circumstances and situations, finances, work, personal preferences, expectations, or physical or mental illness. And there are many other things that can play roles in it as well.

Turner and I have difficult visiting family and friends for special occasions and holidays because of the finances involved as well as the distances. We have family spread across Florida, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Mexico, and Germany. The closest people are several hours away. Everything involved in traveling isn’t usually possible, from asking off work to paying for all the expenses.

But even beyond that, we now hold so many religious and political beliefs that are different from some of our loved ones that it can be draining to visit them when we need to be more careful about the things more say and topics we discuss. Nothing will change our love for these people, but we acknowledge that difficulties arise when spending time with them.

For some of you though, visiting family can be a detriment to your mental and/or physical health. You may experience anxiety or guilt over not wanting to visit or see them during the holidays. I know the emotions will probably come no matter what; however, I hope you understand that your health and safety are more important than fulfilling any “obligations” to your family. You have the right to say no and to protect yourself from stressful, uncomfortable, harmful, or dangerous situations.

Your feelings are real and valid. If something goes wrong or comes up while you’re at a celebration (even if it’s one you were excited about), you are allowed to leave. If you agree to an event and someone does/says something that raises anxiety, depression, fear, or uncomfortableness, you are allowed to back out. If you are hosting and someone you invited does or says something that raises red flags, you are allowed to uninvite them or tell them to leave.

I know I’ve only touched on a few things that can cause or raise anxiety during this time of the year, and I know other mental illnesses and disorders can be greatly affected as well. But basically, I want all of you to stay safe and healthy, feel loved and cared for, and enjoy the holidays and celebrations that you take part in.

Happy Holidays, whatever ones they may be.

Published by A Boggus Life

I am an eclectic reader and editor who solves Rubik's cubes, writes, draws and paints, and longs to live in England and France.

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