The holiday season is rough for many people in the LGBTQ community.
Extra expectations, financial strains, and social isolation cause depression rates to rise. Many people have tensions with their loved ones over their sexuality and gender expression. When that’s coupled with the extra religious observances that take place in the holiday season, it can be rough.
Because of all the outwardly happy people bouncing from holiday brunches to ugly sweater parties, you may feel that you don’t have a right to not like this season. You don’t want to be a Grinch. Know that there’s a bunch of space between being a Grinch and not wanting to participate in holiday activities. Allow yourself space to not like it, for whatever reason, and create a plan to get through it. Here are some tips to help you navigate.
One of the most important words we can say is “no.” This is especially true for events and obligations that aren’t vital for our survival. When it comes to the extra expectations that crop up during the holidays, it’s fine to opt out if that is what it takes to maintain your well-being.
If the goal is to take care of yourself during a challenging season, then it’s important to keep that at the front of your mind. It’s not self-care to spend more money than you have. It’s not treating yourself well to go to religious ceremonies where your existence is demeaned.
Maybe you’ll get a side eye or some questioning, but you can survive that. You can give as much or as little of an explanation as you want. You don’t have to be rude to simply say, “No thanks” or “I don’t want to participate.” If you don’t want to spend or go, say no. Which leads to the next point…
You Don’t Have to Go
You don’t have to go to any event. People often feel pressure to attend the holiday party at work, or extra religious services during the week. These events are optional, and you don’t have to attend.
This also extends to family. If being around family is too much for you to handle, you absolutely can stay home. Visiting family can be too much in several ways. Holiday travel is expensive and can be exhausting. You may have to be around people who don’t respect you with few ways to avoid them. You don’t have to spend time with your family if it causes you stress that you’ll have to recover from later.
Create Your Own Ritual
Maybe you don’t want to be with your family, but you don’t want to be alone on a holiday. In this case, you can create your own rituals. What things are important to you during the holiday season? Structure some events, prayers, or writing around them. If you’re staying put for the holidays, look for an LGBTQIA friendly service to attend. Consider volunteering. See if there are other people you know in your area who wouldn’t mind hosting an extra friend for their festivities.
It’s fine to spend the holidays alone, too. Use the time in a way that’s helpful to you. Binge watch that TV show you never have time to watch during the week. Plan to make yourself a great meal. Or perhaps you can use the time to make extra money.
Just remember that your well-being is more important than the many expectations that pop-up during the holidays. You can engage them if, when, and how you decide. All holy seasons ultimately point back to reflecting on some part of our humanity. It’s important to remember and preserve your own humanity. Be your own holiday.
Photo via flickr user Jonathan Stonehouse