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  • Michelle Beaudoin

'Tis the Season to Be...Meh

This is Lulu. She loves going for leisurely strolls in the garden, begging for food like a puppy dog, and lying in the most uncomfortable looking spots imaginable. What Lulu does not like is the holidays. Not because she's a Grinch--even though her sister tried to dress her like one--but because she finds them overwhelming.

There's the noise, the company, the shiny decorations she's not allowed to touch. Holidays disrupt her routine and create an energy in the house that she would prefer not to deal with. She loves spending time with her family, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are just too much to bear. Everything is topsy turvy in her world, nothing is where it belongs, and people are constantly expecting things from her that she doesn't really feel like doing like being social or friendly, not climbing up the Christmas tree trunk, or not jumping up on the table to help herself to some turkey.

The holidays are like this for many of us: overwhelming, overstimulating, with too many expectations that simply can't be met. They can be particularly challenging for people who are struggling with alcohol, substance use, eating disorders, anxiety, grief or loss. Between the anxiety, stress, depression, and temptations, it can feel like the most horrible time of the year.

Some ways to reclaim the holidays so that they feel both enjoyable and manageable include:

  1. If you find yourself thinking, "I should," about something holiday-related, stop and ask yourself what you need. If what you need is not related to the "should," toss the "should" out like used wrapping paper.

  2. Schedule time for yourself every day to do something that is meaningful to you--whether it's putting on a pair of fuzzy socks and playing a game on your computer or helping out at a local food pantry.

  3. Connect with the people you care about in a meaningful way. Don't go to gatherings that will cause you stress, anxiety, or that will prompt you to compare yourself to others in an unfavorable way.

  4. If you go to a social gathering, have a plan for how you'll navigate it--especially if alcohol or food is an issue for you. Enlist support from someone who can attend with you.

  5. Limit your use of social media to sites that feed your soul. Anyone can curate beautiful holiday moments for Instagram but what you're looking at is a fictional moment in time--not reality.

  6. If you're lonely and struggling, reach out to someone who cares or to someone who can help support you through whatever it is you're experiencing.

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