Julia’s Holiday Survival Guide

I have such a love/ hate relationship with holidays. I love the festivities, the feelings, the smells and sounds of a bustling house getting ready for a celebration. I hate the anxiety and triggers that usually come along with all of the excitement.

Thanksgiving is coming up and with all the preparation, and eagerness surrounding the holiday it can be hard to struggle and feel alone in your gloom, especially while everyone around you appears to be so cheerful.

For sufferers of mental illnesses, holidays can be extremely hard. Depression tends to hit a bit harder, anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, etc can all rear their ugly heads. For me, personally, I have ptsd symptoms that surface near holidays which makes my depression act up. On top of that, my ed absolutely dreads holidays which are usually very food centred events. Overall it can be a stressful time for me and for a lot of other people, acknowledging this and putting some safe guards in place before the holiday season can be life saving! 

My list for surviving the holidays! 

  • Have a fidget toy on you at all times. These can be as discreet as an anxiety ring or a small squish you can hide in you hand to not draw attention to you. Having that external stimulation can help keep you grounded and stop any potential spins into anxiety.
  • Bring earphones! Being able to tune out for a little bit with music with little effort can bring a sense of calm.
  • Meal plan ahead of time. Getting the menu and planning out what your going to eat, how much, and what to do if something runs out can help alleviate the stress and anxiety of having to choose on the spot or being blind sighted by possible fear foods.
  • Know your triggers. This one is tricky because you can’t always anticipate when a trigger will happen. Imagining any possible scenarios that could come up before hand and planning coping strategies to help you get through them will potentially help you get through the trigger if it end up happening.
  • Have an escape plan. If the evening gets to be too much make sure you have a way to get out and home safely. Call an Uber, talk to a family member you trust and set up an agreement that they take you home whenever you need, bring your own car, etc. Knowing your not stuck somewhere take a big weight off of your shoulders.
  • Avoid too many substances. I know it’s tempting to try to curb your anxiety and the pressures of being social with alcohol or other substances but in the end using them will as an escape mechanism will only hurt you more and possibly make the evening (and possibly the morning after) more unbearable. 
  • Take breaks. Sneak off to the washroom for a few minutes, go outside for some fresh air, if the party is at your housed go to your room and take a moment to breath. Regroup, ground yourself and head back when you feel able too.

I hope this holiday season is an enjoyable one for you all, and if it’s not just know that I’m so undeniably proud of you for making it through another year.

Author: Julia Graci

Born and raised in Vaughan ON, Julia is a passionate advocate for mental illness awareness. She is currently in university studying to become a social worker to continue to help people in need while trying to navigate the craziness of this new world. She joined the HAUS OF HAIRROR family in May 2021 and is excited to continue advocating for those whose voices are not heard.

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