Self-Care Tips for Those of Us Who Don’t Swoon Over the Holidays

If only the holidays were really this pretty and simple.  Source:

If only the holidays were really this pretty and simple.

 Predictably, the holiday season is back, and we get to do the same holiday-related things we do every year. We watch the same movies, endure the same dry turkey, and have the same intense hangovers on December 26th. While the bright lights and ribbons insist this is a happy time of year, some of us experience it as a yearly reminder of loss, confusion or grief. Surprise! The holiday season is not a happy time for us all. But you already knew that. Some of us don’t come from big, happy families, or are estranged from our families, or can’t afford to visit our families, or just don’t celebrate holidays. The forced cheer of November and December can be a grim daily reminder of your own pain and sadness. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to struggling through the end of every calendar year. Here are four ways to put yourself first this holiday season and come out the other side healthy and refreshed.

Speak up! Source:

Speak up!

 1. Set your boundaries & communicate your needs.

Yes, you should do this all the time, but it will especially help right now. You don’t have to celebrate the holidays if you don’t want to. You don’t have to go home to make your mom happy. You don’t have to feel guilty for making the decision that is best for you. This will be the second year in a row I won’t be going home for Christmas. It was hard and sad last year but ended up validating and strengthening me. And I had a blast celebrating with my chosen family in the Berkeley sunshine. I’m staying in California again this Christmas, and I’m excited to spend the day exactly how I want to, free of familial and societal pressure.


My altar and the evidence of rituals past.

My “altar” and the evidence of rituals past.

2. Do a ritual.

Did you read my self-care rituals article from October? Good, then you already know I like self-care, I like rituals and I like combining them. Doing a ritual is a great way to ground yourself. If you’re overwhelmed by Christmas songs blasting at every store or frustrated by an estranged family member’s repeated attempts to contact you or sick of being invited to holiday parties when you don’t celebrate, try a ritual. Light a candle, write out your hate of this season and let it go, read a poem, remind yourself of positive things, find one thing you like about December, do something, do whatever the hell is right for you. A ritual is whatever you want it to be, and the intention, thought and care that goes into it can only do good for you.


My 2013 tree. Yes, that is a rubber ducky in a crocheted piano, among other things.

My 2013 tree. Yes, that is a rubber ducky in a crocheted piano, among other things.

 3. Create new traditions and routines.

Sure, I miss the traditions of stockings and homemade peppermint bark and wrapping presents with my dad. But not enough to brave holiday air travel or East Coast winters. The holiday traditions I grew up with are so wrapped up in my family that I thought I couldn’t make new ones until I had my own family. I was bogged down in the societal ideal of what a family is, and didn’t realize I already had one: my friends. That sounds cheesy but it’s true. You don’t need a romantic couple and kids to have a family. I’m going with the theme of this article when I tell you: do whatever the hell feels right to you during the holiday season. I like to get a small Charlie Brown-style tree and decorate it with knickknacks from my apartment. I spend Christmas Eve getting fancy and drinking cocktails with friends. I’ll spend Christmas Day with someone or someones I love and I can’t wait.



 4. If all else fails, get drunk.

The tried-and-true solution for depressed folks everywhere*.


*I’m not encouraging irresponsible drinking. I’m acknowledging reality.