Happy November, Tampa Bay! Are you as surprised as we are that Thanksgiving is this week? Maybe you’re excitedly gearing up to spend time with loved ones. Maybe you’re dreading family dinner with that one relative, or feeling isolated and lonely in the ongoing pandemic. Whether you love or hate the holidays (or fall somewhere in between!), consider this your early reminder that you get to prioritize yourself this holiday season.
The end of the year can be a time when additional demands can mean extra strain, not only on your time and your budget, but also on your mental health and wellbeing. One thing that can be incredibly helpful and supportive is taking some time to plan ahead. Sometimes a little preparation is all we need to feel more confident and empowered to hold our boundaries and care for ourselves. So, think of November as your “Planning Ahead” month! If you’re able, take a moment to think or write about your answers to these questions:
- What memories and feelings are you bringing into this holiday season? Is there joy? Grief? Excitement? Stress? Gratitude? Something else?
- Is there anything you can take off your plate to make this time of year a little more manageable?
- Is there any support that you would like to have in place for the holiday season? (This could be anything from finding a therapist or asking a friend to watch your kids while you get some alone time.)
- What new or renewed boundaries would support you?
We’d like to take a moment especially to focus on boundaries. Because while we hear a lot about boundaries, it’s sometimes hard to know how to have them. Especially with those we’re closest to (and let’s face it, we usually need boundaries in those relationships the most). But how might it feel to center your own needs during this time of year? We encourage you to get curious.
It can be scary to set and hold boundaries, and to reimagine traditions and patterns of behavior that may have existed in our lives for longer than we can remember. We want to affirm that you are allowed to care for your mental health. And you are allowed to put yourself first, even during this time between Thanksgiving and New Years, when it can seem like everyone is putting themselves last. But as Esther Perel and Mary Alice Miller wrote in an article about loneliness around the holidays: “This holiday season is an opportunity to create new traditions that challenge the DNA of our society that says we have to do it all alone.”
And while this article was written in the context of 2020, its message remains relevant and crucial in this next season.
You have the ability to reimagine the holidays this year, into something more beautiful, supportive, and generative. And if you need help getting started, we’re here for you. Here’s to the gift of being on our own side this holiday season.
We’ll see you next month,