What is there to be joyful about?
Money is tight.
Things are expensive.
I’m stressed to the max.
Kids have been sick.
The weather is shit.
I’m not done my shopping.
I have something to attend every night this week.
My kids have a hockey tournament again this weekend.
I’m not finished shopping and I don’t have any idea how I’m going to feed people through the holidays once I finish the shopping. (*See Money is tight, above.)
And on top of that, it’s our turn to spend Christmas with the inlaws.
Is Christmas feeling extra hard this year?
Has money or gift stress got you down?
Are you (and your credit cards) maxed out?
Will you have any time in your schedule for quiet time this holiday season?
Here are a few coping strategies that just might work for you.
Retreat into a bottle. Unscrew multiple lids and drink yourself into a black hole of who-the-fuck-cares-anyways. Lots of us do it. It’s one of our socially acceptable ways of managing stress and ‘dealing‘ with the things we can’t quite manage.
Possible side-effects include: hangovers, headaches, depressive states (post drunk), bloat, barfing, wasted days in recouperation, unnecessary arguements, loud and obnoxious behaviour, things said that can’t be unsaid, possible sexual inpropriety and fist fights with your brother. But, hey, it’s all about stress management, right?
Food is the true pleasure of the season, no? We make everyone’s favourites and eat and drink all day from morning until night. We make French toast christmas casseroles and whipped shortbread and eat Toffifee and drink Bailey’s in our coffee at 5:30am. (How else are we going to survive Christmas morning?)
We arrive for turkey dinner, already full, plow through appetizers while the turkey rests, and drink Peppermint martinis before loading our plates with more food than we would normally eat in two days. It is seriously, so much fun. We stuff ourselves until we are so full we have to undo our buttons and lay back in physical pain and then we slice the pie and drink coffee and eggnog and rum.
Possible side effects include: constipation, indigestion, throwing up, heartburn, diarrhea, self-loathing, misery, a day spent in the loo, trips to the pharmacy and money spent on stomach aids, nightmares, burping up chunks of peppermint schnapps flavoured stuffing, and “more of you” to love. Food truly is the most rewarding stress management tool I know of. It’s delicious, and satisfying!
To hell with everybody.
Work Christmas party? Can’t come.
Friends having a party? No thanks.
Kids want to see the lights? Mommy doesn’t fee well.
Christmas movies? I’d rather jab my own eyes out. Sons of Anarchy, season 6, here I come.
Sister wants to do brunch? Darn stomach bug.
Aunt Martha has come to town? Lie and say “we’re previously committed”.
Possible side effects: Nothing too painful for you, I’d guess. You might miss out on conversations. Laughter. Human connection with people who’d love to see you. On one hand, no added emotional stress, but on the other, no warm fuzzies either. This solution is perfect for those who cannot bear to be in the same room with annoying family members, or anyone whom you percieve to be more blessed, lucky or joyful than you currently are. See also: Hermit, and Depression.
When you just can’t cope with your life, becoming a hermit is a darn good option. See noone; feel nothing. Non-commital. Private. Quiet. Allow me to retreat into the shell of my perfect world, where it is safe and noone judges me and I don’t have to compete for time and attention and people won’t annoy me with happy, holiday greetings and hugs that make me lean into people’s boobs and I can successfully avoid the pressure of perfect presents and my presence.
Possible side-effects: silence, talking to oneself, the purchase of several kittens and a large bag of catfood, Kleenex boxes on your feet as slippers, less texts, calls and Snaps blowin’ up your phone and a relief of pressure to ‘show up’ for others. The relief may turn to a void, which can eventually be replaced by aching loneliness. Achieving true Hermit status only hurts people you love for a short time. Then, they give up on asking if you’d like to come out, or join the party or want to get together – to save themselves the rejection and the effort of trying to convince you. And, relief – you get what you want. You are alone. (Was that the effect you were going for?)
Nothing you ever do is good enough. You’re letting everybody down and they are going to be so heartbroken and devastated when you personally ruin their Christmas this year. Mom is gonna be mad. Kids are gonna cry and wail. No one will ever forgive you. You can certainly choose big guilt as a coping strategy this Christmas – after all – loading the whole world, American politics and the Canadian economy onto your shoulders IS an option. While you’re at it, why don’t you take full responsibility for the breakup and your company’s layoffs and the fact that you won’t be going to Disneyland as promised this spring. (OR you can brush that crazy shit off like sticky snow and only claim what is really yours.)
Possible side-effects of crippling guilt include: poor self-esteem, over-compensating to the point of exhaustion, terrible self-talk and even self-loathing, ass-kissing when not necessary, and heaps of other people’s extra guilt being loaded onto you (seeing as you’re so willing to take it all on), stomach aches, tight shoulders, tension headaches, crying jags, poor-me-victim stories to tell and a sore low back. Crippling guilt does just that: binds you up and makes it hard to move when you’re loaded down with self-punishments.
This year, ask Santa for clarity on what is ACTUALLY yours to carry.
And let the rest go in the winter wind: freeze that shit out.
There is NO JOKING about DEPRESSION, ever. Not at Christmas – and not on any other day. Depression at Christmas is common, devastating, lonely and very real. If you know someone who is depressed, take them some cookies, and check in on them. Hold their hand. Snuggle by the fire for an hour. Ask if they have some help?
If you – or someone you know – is suicidal – GET HELP IMMEDIATELY.
Go to your local hospital emergency room.
Call 911 if a threat to their safety is imminent or call:
Canadian Mental Health Help Line – 1-800-232-7288
Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-784-2433
Central Alberta Crisis Line – 24 hrs – 403.266.HELP (4357)
We do it to ourselves.
The pressure and expectations.
The deadlines and budget lines and check out lines.
The bigger, better, more and perfect.
Perfect party wear.
This year, it is tough out there!
Food bank use in our region has almost fully DOUBLED. There are families who can’t put FOOD in the fridge, let alone gifts under the tree. The expectations are enormous. The pressure to not let people down is suffocating. The despair around lack of money, and jobs, and perfect presents is heartaching.
People have less to give and more places to be. EVERYONE wants something from us – donations, time, food, commitments – and is giving us something to do – lists, dates, parties and events.
The pressure is too much.
Somethings gotta give.
And it is gonna be YOU.
When the going gets tough – the tough get going. *cue Billy Ocean
Your kids will survive. Your partner will survive.
Pour on the love.
Make no apologies for what YOU THINK is missing.
Review the year, write down the wins and say thanks. Write down the losses and burn them over a roaring fire (or tear them into itty bitty pieces and flush them down the toilet.)
Celebrate your survival.
Pat yourself on the back.
Let yourself break down and weep.
Call on a friend for a shoulder.
Don’t shut down.
Don’t turn your heart off.
And don’t let your mind rule you.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
Make a plan for the new year.
Write down all the wishes…. the way you’d like your life to go.
When the going gets tough, we pull up our pants, adjust our sails, batten down the hatches, hunker down, put on our brave face, and commit to taking it ONE DAY AT A TIME.
We just keep plowing forward.
Rest. Pout. Be mad.
Lean into it.
Sending love and good juju…