The holidays in a normal year can be a tough time for many, and “a tough time” sounds like a euphemistic understatement for 2020! To help us combat our Holigay Blues, I sat down with Mikayla M. Weathers, M.A., LMFT.
Mikayla is a queer licensed marriage and family therapist born and raised in San Diego CA. Currently, she is working part time at an Addiction Treatment facility, building her private practice, and homeschooling her two kids due to distance learning
Watch our chat or read on for how to deal with common emotional challenges.
How it feels: Sadness or isolation from friends or family due to distance, COVID, finances, single status, etc. This year, you may not be with family sharing your holiday traditions or may not have a date to kiss on New Year’s Eve. This can lead to low self-esteem, negative thoughts, and unhealthy behaviors.
What to do:
- Remember that alone does not necessarily mean lonely. Use time by yourself to reflect on your self relationship and enjoy your solitude.
- Watch your thoughts as they impact the way you feel. If you think, “I’m lonely, because I am unlovable”, you’re likely to descend into a negative thought spiral. Instead notice your loneliness and remind yourself that the feeling is temporary and that you are worthy.
- Connect with someone via zoom or Facetime.
- Engage in a hobby that puts you into a state of flow.
- Minimize social media if it makes you feel FOMO.
- Try these things to make the holigays gayer!
TENSION WITH FAMILY
How it feels: Anger, sadness, and discomfort due to not feeling fully accepted by family. This could be driven by your queer identity, differing political views, etc.
What to do:
- Set and communicate your boundaries! Decline invitations or set a time limit for family functions.
- Balance advocacy and allyship with our own mental health. You don’t have to fight (or win) every battle!
- Honor and prioritize your needs.
- Share what’s going on in your life only as you feel comfortable.
LOSS / GRIEF
How it feels: Grief has five stages (which may not be experienced sequentially): anger, bargaining, denial, depression, and acceptance! This sense of loss may come from the death of loved ones, relationship ends, or the absence of traditions this year.
What to do:
- Remember and honor a loved one’s death: light a candle at the dinner table, leave an empty chair, say a few words.
- Start new traditions of your own.
- Feel your grief – don’t push it away: talk about your grief with someone you trust, journal, join a support group, make an art piece related to grief, write a “letter of loss.”
- Set realistic holiday expectations: maybe you don’t want to go over the top in decorating because you are exhausted from grieving…that is okay. Everyone grieves differently–some people prefer following the same routine while others may need to take a break from their normal lives.
- Exercise to get those endorphins flowing: take a walk outside, do a few jumping jacks in the morning, find a free workout video on Youtube, or learn a new dance on TikTok.
How it feels: Anxiety, stress, or sadness caused by the pressure to spend money on gifts during a year with widespread job loss, creating more debt and stress. Not buying gifts may lead to feeling like a bad friend or family member.
What to do:
- Set boundaries with your finances.
- Explore other ways to express your love or appreciation: write a letter of gratitude, make cookies, give personal favor coupons (yes, masked massages!)
- Give yourself the gift of paying down your debt vs adding to it.
TRY THIS AT HOME: Commit to trying one new technique when one of these emotional challenges inevitably arises in your life. Happy Holigays and see you in 2021!
Nicole (she/her) is the editor of the HER newsletter and a queer events producer (creator of Queer Dating 101), executive/life/dating coach, avid shark diver, and author of the upcoming memoir, The No Plan Plan. In this column, Out on a Lim, she focuses on intentionally “learning things the hard way” by trying anything twice so you don’t have to (unless you want to!). Check out Nicole on IG|web|newsletter, and share your experiences or ideas for what to explore next! 🤙 🌈