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De-Stress Yourself this Holiday Season

We all know the holidays can be stressful! Maybe you’re contemplating coming out to your family, or bringing your partner home to meet your folks for the first time. Maybe your relatives are not supportive, and you don’t feel safe or welcome at home. Or, maybe you’re in over your head with the list of people you have to buy gifts for. Whatever it is that is contributing to your stress, Howard Brown Health Center is looking out for you!

The Lesbian Community Care Project and the Behavioral Health Services team of Howard Brown Health Center present The Top 10 Mental Health Tips for the Holidays! Read them; share them; tack them onto your fridge. We all can use a reminder once in a while.

Top 10 Mental Health Tips for the Holidays

1. Be kind to yourself. Things can feel harder and lonelier around the holidays, especially if you feel isolated, forgotten or unsupported. Be kind to yourself, recognizing that some ordinary things will take extra time and patience. Plan for the added stress and fatigue you may feel, and take extra good care of yourself.

2. More is not necessarily better. This applies to food, alcohol, chocolate, sex, family time and holiday events. Choose what you want in moderation.

3. Keep expectations realistic. Pinch yourself if the words “perfect,” “just right” or “ideal” come out of your mouth or into your head. There is no perfect gift or event – no, there really isn’t! Realistic expectations will help you enjoy what the holidays have to offer.

4. Old patterns will naturally start to appear around the holidays, especially when you are with relatives or under stress. You may find yourself falling into old family patterns or behaving in old ways. Pause and remember that you have different choices that you can make now (even if your brother is still a pain in the butt).

5. Remember that other people cannot read your mind or anticipate your needs. Waiting for someone else to notice and respond to what you want results in hurt feelings and arguments. If you need or want something, pause, consider whether your expectations are realistic (see #3), then choose a way to voice your request and meet your needs.

6. Remember that “family” is another way of saying “people who love, support and care about me.” Being with people who care about you is important and can help soothe other losses or family breaks that can feel harsh at this time of year. Rely on the family you have created if you feel hurt by the family you were born with.

7. Pause and think through any major announcements or decisions you want to make during the holidays. If you are planning to come out to someone or tell someone your HIV status, take your time. Breathe. Before you tell someone, arrange to have another friend or family member who loves you and already knows standing by for support.

8. Plan sanity time-outs. Give yourself permission to step away from an event to take a walk, go into a spare bedroom and read for 30 minutes, or go to a movie alone. Put enough time-outs into your days so that you end the days feeling good.

9. Choose your battles. Ask yourself if the current issue is really the one you need to take a stand on. If this isn’t “the hill you want to die on,” let it pass. Save your energy for something that really does matter.

10. Do something silly. Whether it’s a special holiday outfit, reindeer antlers for the dog, attending a silly holiday event, or watching a funny holiday movie, take time to remember the joy and fun of acting a little younger than you may be.

Join Us at our De-Stress Yourself Event!

Looking to learn more about stress management and try out some stress reduction techniques? On December 20th, join the Sage Community Health Collective and the Lesbian Community Care Project, a program of Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC), for an evening of holiday stress relief!

At this relaxing and educational event, you will have an opportunity to participate in an interactive workshop led by one of HBHC’s behavioral health clinicians, focused on strategies for managing stress. The second part of the event will include a NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) circle, where Sage staff will provide ear acupuncture in a group setting and teach you how to perform self-acupressure. Self-care is important; treat yourself to some stress relief this holiday season!

Tickets are on a sliding scale, between $10 – $20, based on what you can afford. Space is limited! Contact Betsy at BetsyR@howardbrown.org or (773) 388-8993 to RSVP.

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About Betsy

Betsy was born in Chicago and raised in the northern suburbs of the city. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with her B.A. in Philosophy, and went on to pursue her M.A. in Social Work from the University of Chicago. Over the past six years, Betsy has developed and pursued her passion for women’s health, LGBTQ issues, and social justice. In January of 2012, she became the Manager of the Lesbian Community Care Project (LCCP) at Howard Brown Health Center, the largest LGBTQ healthcare organization in the Midwest. Betsy is thrilled to join The L Stop team to write for the Queering Her Health blog. She hopes the blog will: 1) help LBTQ women get access to health information that is focused specifically on queer women’s health issues, 2) provide resources for LBTQ women to get connected to healthcare that is safe and affirming, and 3) encourage queer women to take care of themselves and their health, because we’re worth it!

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  1. […] Vital tips from the Lesbian Community Care Project on de-stressing and self appreciation in the holiday season (they are good for people who aren’t ladies who love ladies, too). […]

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