"My family is my strength and my weakness”
~ Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
I love the holiday season because I love the few times of the year when humans are just nice to each other for no reason. Like Eid al-Adha, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, Christmas encourages gratuitous good cheer.
In the midst of present buying, planning, and overeating, it's important to remember that this is a very challenging time for many people's mental health.
Women experiencing the first holiday season after separation can struggle with how to navigate who's going to have the children for Christmas lunch or dinner or at all. Maybe you're not speaking to your ex. How do you manage the children's expectations? All of this can induce a huge bout of guilt, stress, and worry for an already overstretched single parent.
Some of you may be dreading the obligatory family gathering. Although these are your blood relations, with little in common, they may not be the family of your choice. Once a year, you are forced to spend time together because of tradition. These occasions can trigger old wounds and trauma.
Like me, your family may live overseas and because of finances or limited leave time, you will not see them these holidays. This might bring on feelings of grief, sadness, loneliness, or guilt.
These are all tough feelings to manage at a time when we're meant to be happy and celebrating.
Now more than ever, I encourage you to utilise your self-care tools.
Take time out when possible.
Talk to your kids in an age-appropriate way to manage their expectations.
Choose your battle and offer the olive branch in situations where doing so will not put you or your children at risk.
Do your best but do not guilt yourself into overcompensating by overspending and getting into debt.
In situations where alcohol can fuel bad behaviour, arrive early and leave before the heavy drinking kicks in. Keep conversation friendly and on the surface in potentially explosive situations.
Where you are far from family or friends, arrange a video catch-up across time zones with multiple family members.
Most of all, be kind and gentle with yourself. You cannot be everything to everyone and it's Ok to put your needs first even at this time of giving.
I recently had seven nourishing days in Bali. It has been a big year and I was tired and I didn't want to drag myself to the finish line of 2022. I spent the week doing daily yoga, spa treatments, reading, and eating organic meals.
That short break was the pause and reset I needed to enable me to show up for my clients and commitments for the coming weeks.
Although you may not be able to take time off, remember to give yourself mini pauses throughout the day to calm your mind and reset your nervous system.
Lots of hugs until next time.