The holidays are a stressful enough time of year, but for some within the GSRD community it can be harder as one may need to navigate their identity or family members as a group. While some of us have personally experienced this, others have been allies of our friends or family going through this period. Unlike Santa, we don’t have the means to make it around the world in one night, so we won’t be able to attend everyone’s family dinners as a supporter. Instead, we compiled a list of strategies to help you get through the most stressful time of the year.
It can be simple to lose track of what you need amid the holiday commotion. Never forget to take a break and look after yourself. Taking a bath, going for a stroll, or enjoying a cup of your favourite coffee are all examples of self-care. It’s crucial to take the time to consider your needs before travelling or returning home for the holidays.
Define Your Boundaries
If it makes you more at ease, discuss a list of your restrictions and boundaries with the people you are about to see. Setting limits and discussing potential stresses with family members can help reduce stress. Doing this can help you feel prepared to deal with stressors that may arise, especially if you know some topics or behaviours come up consistently with family members.
Your Feelings are VALID!
The way that other people view your identities can be incredibly degrading and invalidating. Whether you are visiting a queer-friendly location or not, it is essential to affirm your own identities and experiences. Whether it be through podcasts, reading queer-affirming literature, or talking to a close friend. Prior to entering a setting that doesn’t respect your experiences, it is valuable to reaffirm your identity.
Move at Your Own Pace
The season of giving can feel rushed. Take your time and don’t worry if you can’t visit everyone or make it to everything. It’s okay to be late or miss something entirely because you need a moment. Do not feel obligated to do or be everything for everyone; instead, move at your own pace.
You can express your thoughts and ideas in a journal without having to worry about how they will come across to other people. If you are still in the closet or do not have close friends or family members who can support you, this may be useful. It can also assist you in taking stock of your sentiments and emotions as the holiday season progresses.
Spend Time with your Chosen Family
It may seem obligatory to see and spend time with your blood family during the Christmas season. Keep in mind that you are under no need to spend time with anyone you do not want to. The individuals you CHOOSE to travel through life with each day are your chosen family. They can be blood relations or someone else entirely. The season can be improved by spending time with individuals that value you and love sharing life with you.
Create an Exit Strategy
If you travel to a place where you have no support networks, it might be simple to feel stuck. Develop a plan for leaving a gathering at a specific time or stay in a hotel rather than with family members to avoid this, for example. You may have your friend call and make an excuse to get you out of that gathering. At the end of the day, you do not need to stand-by and tolerate discriminatory behaviour and have every right to leave an event you are no longer comfortable being at.
The holidays can be very taxing, both mentally and emotionally, especially when we’re in unsettling situations. Decompressing and processing feelings and relationships after the holidays are important but doing so can be quite stressful. Set up a phone call, a lunch appointment, or just some devoted time to discuss the holidays with a supportive person in your life.