It’s been some time since I wrote about mental health on here. But on the rare occasion that I have shared my struggles and/or advice, the love and support from followers, friends and family has been nothing short of miraculous. So it is with the same level of humility, and same intention of offering hope and advice, that I share some of the things that get me through the holiday season with a clear head and a full heart.
- MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE
Though I’m sure I wrote one every year growing up, I can’t remember the last time I wrote a full on Christmas wish list. I’ve sent links to my siblings, in laws and parents in recent years, but it’s been a hot minute since I sat down a wrote down everything that I really wanted. But this Christmas, why not step back from the needs and wants, and adjust your focus to the has and loves? A 10 point gratitude list is a quick way of honing your sights on what you are lucky to have. When I have bad days my husband makes me list the good things. On really bad days, sometimes I am only able to count 3 things (him, the dog and my bed were my go to answers for several months) but I have challenged myself to really think about what matters – a healthy pregnancy after 4 years of trying, health insurance, our daughter’s smile, my little blog bringing in money, the start of football season, coffee, girlfriends checking in on me on the daily, not living pay check to pay check, tomatoes fresh off the vine, those super large fleece blankets Walmart sell that give you static shocks but keep you oh-so-warm. So when you get swept up in Christmas craziness this year, I challenge you to list 10 (yes 10!) things that you are grateful for.
- LET IT GO
As I attested to yesterday, there is so much to do during the run up to Christmas: gift shopping, food shopping, getting cards and parcels in the mail by ludicrously specific dates, parties, dinners…and that’s just one weekend. When I get overwhelmed, which is easily done even on quiet days thanks to my ADHD, it helps to take a step back and look at what is urgent and important. The Eisenhower Matrix is a method that gives you the tools to prioritise actions and whittle down your to-do list into manageable bites. When doing one this past weekend, I put a line through “having friends over to meet Ellie” as I deemed it not urgent/not important. Stuff like that, though fun and no doubt restorative, can wait a while. Our important stuff for the week is family time, alone time, and getting our routine established. Our urgent stuff is getting birth certificates, looking into dual citizenship applications, picking up more baby wipes, and doing a food shop. If it isn’t important, and if it isn’t urgent, then babes…let it go.
- PEACE ON EARTH AND GOODWILL TO MEN
In the same vein of thought of the previous point, saying no is healthy. I have said no to a lot lately and while I sometimes feel bad about telling friends we’re not ready to receive visitors just yet, saying no sets boundaries and gives me control. If we said yes to everything, if we took on every task or attended every event, we would be exhausted and miserable. Saying no is also not a concrete response. Friends asking you out for drinks on a weeknight, the day before a big presentation? Say “no can do, but how about Saturday?” Family pushing for details on your love life? Say “no, still single. I’ll be sure to send you all the press release when that changes!” Boss asking you to step in and take over the office party planning? Say “I’m sorry but no, not unless I am able to get some help with these deadlines/tasks/projects.” No isn’t always about denying oneself something, or denying someone else of something or your time, it is a healthy, normal, and often expected response to many questions. No is not a bad word, it is a response.
- HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS
One of my family’s favourite holiday stories to tell is The One Where Phoebe Ruined Christmas. I was home from university and spending Christmas Eve in the pub with my friends, a tradition that started well before we were legally allowed to drink, and would no doubt still be going if we weren’t now scattered all across the planet. I went too hard. When last call came around, I was the most drunk I had ever been and subsequently threw up in the pub, in the car park, and even in the hire car my parents had rented for the holidays. I started my Christmas morning convinced I’d gotten my drinks spiked, and spent the rest of the day hugging the toilet and shaking violently. Christmas dinner was eaten in silence that year. It took close to a decade of trial and error to learn my booze limits, and to this day I can’t do shots as my gag reflex died that fateful night in 2005. As I approach my 34th turn around the sun, I like knowing my limits. I might come across as a prude or boring, but they keep me sane. So here are some things to consider knowing your limits on:
– how much time you can spend with certain people
– how many people you really need to buy for
– how much time alone you need each day
– what your total Christmas budget is
Taking responsibility for your finances this time of year can do you the world of good. Why not make some gifts for family and friends? The joy of creating is unrivaled, and is a darn sight cheaper than purchasing presents. Set a budget, and have a crafty night in. Set budgets for food shops too. And consider taking up couponing! An open and honest approach to finances means no difficult conversations at the check out, and it helps navigate a notoriously expensive time of year with maturity and honesty.
If you find yourself struggling mentally this holiday season, be sure to speak to someone you trust, including your doctor. My DMs are always open if you just want a chat. If you’re a Cincinnati local, I’m down for coffee dates if you want one. If things get too much, please consider calling a helpline:
USA: 1-800-273-8255 or text CONNECT to 741741
UK: 08457 90 90 90 or text SHOUT to 85258