Depression & Anxiety Life Hacks #3: Holidays


Hello again to another episode of “Depression & Anxiety Lifehacks” Today we talk about tips and tricks to make coping with brainweasels during holidays and celebrations easier No matter if its Thanksgiving, Quanzaa, Christmas, Chanukah, New Years, Birthdays or any other celebration They all come with societal pressures, emotional baggage, traditions and obligations that can make depression and anxiety particularly alienating and obnoxious Its very difficult to face celebration when you are having trouble grappling with any emotion or when getting out of bed every morning is a huge feat of strength But you can make it through the holidays and maybe even have a good time As always we draw from personal and shared experience, stories and research and remind you that there is nothing wrong with slightly odd coping mechanisms In the first part of the video we are covering large gatherings and big festivities in the second part we are going to talk about spending the holidays alone Get to know the space This is a general survival skill that most of us implement wherewever we are anyway Know your exits, know your bathrooms Locate sources of natural light, of fresh air, of warmth and figure out places to hide This can be backrooms, bathrooms, storage closets, patios or underneath tables if there are long table cloths Figure out where people like to gather, where they pass through and where they don’t generally hang out at all In short, know where the action is and how to get out of it. Or how to appear in it, but maintain safe distance Hiding under tables or in bathrooms is absolutely acceptable if you need it You can come up with a creative excuse but I found that just telling people “Oh, I needed a few minutes away from the action” is absolutely understandable Be aware of yourself: get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat enough but not too much mind your fruits and vegetables, use intoxicants in moderations, if at all, and take your meds Your first job is always to take care of you Mixing depression with dehydration or anxiety with not enough sleep just makes things harder then they need to be Carve out publicly accepted alone-time by taking over tasks that nobody else wants to do I hate doing the dishes probably more than any other household task but I do them at large gatherings because it usually makes other people leave you alone to not have to help Large gatherings leave you with no shortage in little tasks in food preparation, clean-up and helping others that afford you relative solitude and give you something to focus on for a little while Never underestimate the power of little kids and animals Pets and toddlers tend to get overwhelmed in large crowds as well so volunteer to take care of them to get away from the action So play a boardgame with the little ones or read a book or take the dog for a walk Little kids and especially dogs tend to pretty readily like anyone who engages them so they make for very good reassuring company bonus: they know nothing about religion or politics and they have absolutely no super-helpfull oppinions about your life choices Bring a book! You may not actually get to read but I find that having a book in my bag is like having a secret ally a Plan B, a different world I could escape into, and that makes me calmer Introduce an activity that is enjoyable to you My family usually does a giant puzzle on Christmas and it’s a great collaborative and calm activity that dispells the holiday anxiety a bit I am also a big believer that any large gathering of people needs a good round of trivial pursuit Make it two teams, so that people can easily enter and leave the game as they please women against men or blood relatives against non-bloods You can also introduce a craft project, start a paper airplane contest or a round of hearts or soccer or whatever suits your personal preference and your crowd Be the party photographer a camera around your neck gives you something to do and it effectively removes you from the action while still making you appear completely involved Besides, it gives you an excellent excuse to leave any uncomfortable situation Oh, hillarious things are happening over there, sorry, gotta go Breathing exercises. We talked about the 4-7-8 in the first video and that is a very usefull thing to do during bathroom breaks or while hiding in closets if need be Scarves, lemons, tea and all the other tips remain very usefull on holidays as well Most importantly, be as open as you can be about your brainweasels Trying to maintain a perfect flawless facade is usually the most difficult and damaging part of dealing with depression and anxiety during the holidays So let at least a few people know that you are struggling and trying to cope And don’t be afraid to ask for a hug or for someone to take a walk with you or to run intereference between you and particularly stressfull others People are usually really glad to have a clear task or tool to help you with and having an ally in the room will calm you tremendously Sometimes you are alone on holidays by choice. Sometimes your friends and family are too far away and sometimes yo find yourself with nowhere else to be Beeing alone on holidays can be preferable to big celebrations and much Hoo-ha and yet at the same time, beeing alone seems to make the holidays even harder to get through So here are some helpful hints for surviving and maybe even enjoying solitary holidays Feel the power! Beeing alone for the holidays means you are in charge So it’s time to establish your own traditions Traditions are excelent when they are positive and comfortable because they give you structure and regularity But the traditions that work for others don’t necessairily need to be working for you Who says your birthday isn’t a day to take yourself on adventures or else to build a giant blanket fort and eat brownies straight out of the pan who says new years isn’t a day to move furniture around and reorganise your favourite room Who says that Christmas isn’t traditionally celebrated by eating ice-cream, watching movies and putting yoghurt on your face Declaring the things you do new traditions validates them and gives them sneaky meaning And because you are the captain of your own traditions you absolutely get to change them around next year So cancel the ones you didn’t love and add new ones as you please Do a life audit I tend to get existential on holidays, I tend to get existential when I am sad and I tend to get existential when I am lonely So solitary holidays kinda hit the trifecta Fighting that is very difficult and kind of futile So embrace the existentialness and re-examine your life There are several ways of doing this and I’ll include some relevant links in the description Create something. Making things, no matter how simple or complex is very soothing because there is always visible progress and there is physical proof that you didn’t lose time So pull out that creative idea, that home-improvement project, that fancy recipe you’ve been meaning to try If you don’t have one or twelve of those in the back of your mind go explore the depths of Pinterest DIY boards Find something you like and make that your designated holiday project If you absolutely don’t feel like partaking in the holiday festivities, that’s okay too It’s important to celebrate life and appreciate the good things but our lives, moods and brainweasels don’t generally conform to calendars so don’t let anyone tell you that you need to be jolly, cheery and get into whatever holiday spirit You can’t force how you feel and sometimes boycoting a holiday can be what’s best for your mind at that moment especially if there are too many bad things connected to that holiday for you to find the jolly cheer in it So declare it a regular old day, try to get some work done, cook some pasta, go to bed early That’s okay too. Holidays are not obligatory. It is important to celebrate life though. To stop the routine every now and again and do something special To gather people you love and appreciate the good things in life Traditional holidays don’t usually cut it for me there, so I highly reccomend coming up with your own Following the examples of Seinfelds Festivus and John Mayers Petomundo we created Quokka-Marshmallow-Day last year, for good friends, board-games and personalised baked goods The second annual Quokka-Marshmallow-Day is already scheduled for April On a smaller scale, weekly celebrations are incredibly usefull for the brainweasly mind Konstantin and I celebrate Fridays every week which is commonly celebrated by having an adult beverage, watching good shows and fixing dreadlocks or else by sitting around and having profound conversations It sounds really trivial, but it’s a really important part of my week because it gives me positive structure and something to look forward to every week and that really is all anyone anyone can ask of any holiday or tradition Now matter how you are spending your holidays, understand that they are tricky and that you need and deserve some extra care during those days also always remember that you are not alone There are leagues of us hiding in bathrooms and under tables or spending a major holiday on our own We may not be there together, but we are also not alone in our struggle, and that to me is very comoforting Christmas makes me lonely and wistful, New Years makes me existential, my birthday makes me longing and ardent… and that’s okay I continue learning how to best enjoy these days and I keep adding more made up holidays to my year that work by my rules and fit my needs Brainweasels make it harder to celebrate and be cheerfull but they also remind us, that emotions and mental health don’t follow the calendar Celebrate good things whenever you can and take care of yourself when you can’t Don’t worry about uncomfortable traditions and obligations You’re not required to fit into outside expectations You get to find your own ways to celebrate good things and you always get to decide what to participate in and what not to depending on what does you good and what doesn’t You will make it through this and any holiday season and if you take care of yourself you will even find some repreive and maybe even joy in it In that spirit, we here at Konstitutionelle Anarchie wish you happy holidays and tame brainweasels and failing that, we wish you a very good cup of tea. You are here and it will be fine

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Comments

  1. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. I've been going through alot lately with colleges, relationships, and home life. My anxiety attacks have gotten much worse within days (not weeks) & i found myself falling into a deep depression. Feeling alone, I decided to search for a video to help me cope and found NONE, and then I came across your first video. If I could I would give you a gigantic hug and a million thank-you's because your tips and advice have really helped me.

  2. So glad I can pull these videos out every year and share them with the students I work with at the university. Just sent it out to a few students for Thanksgiving. 🙂 Thank you!

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to make these videos, and for being in this world. You are delightful and wonderful and wise!

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