It seems like the words “mental health” are a huge catchphrase nowadays. While the issue is serious, it’s great that we’re getting more comfortable talking about mental health challenges as well as prioritizing our own mental health through self care and other avenues.
Diane’s been thinking about this topic a lot recently. As a member of a church group that supports youth and adults struggling with depression or other mental health challenges, she’s learned a lot of mental health first aid. She recently watched the inspiring documentary Suicide: The Ripple Effect, which tells the story of Kevin Hines, who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived. His journey of hope, recovery, and support encourages viewers to be part of a mental health advocacy movement.
Di also recently watched her daughter Andrea star in a local production of Spring Awakening, which deals with similar themes of suicide and mental health struggles. This powerful show explores how youth can be affected by their relationship with their parents or guardians, and how what adults say and do can have a profound impact.
Our mental health can also be impacted when we are overwhelmed or overcommitted. For many, this happens a lot during the holidays. There is decorating to do, parties to host, and gifts to buy. So often we get so busy rushing around and preparing that we don’t actually enjoy the season very much.
Once Diane recognized this tendency in herself, her holiday traditions changed dramatically. She dug deep, examining why she felt like she needed the biggest and best decorations or all the perfect gifts. In most cases, she wasn’t really doing these traditions for herself or even her family. She was doing them because she felt like she was supposed to. But they no longer made her feel good. She was exhausted, stressed, and over budget, and when she did get to spend time with people she didn’t enjoy the experience. Sound familiar?
Now she has pruned away many of these traditions and is much more deliberate about how she spends her time. She looks forward to a week of relaxing during the holidays, and focuses on spending simple yet quality time with those she loves rather than running herself ragged making sure all the trappings are “perfect.”
This point hit home recently when she celebrated her mom’s birthday. Although Di originally envisioned a fancy dinner with the entire family, a busy weekend meant she didn’t start planning until the last minute. Her brother wasn’t available. And when she asked her mom what she wanted for dinner, her answer was pizza. Her mother didn’t want a fancy or expensive outing – she just wanted simple comfort food and to be surrounded by family. With a pizza from Mama’s and a Pepperidge Farm cake, they were able to enjoy amazing conversation and spend quality time together without anyone stressing out about the details or the expense. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
So often we try to feed our egos by doing everything, hoping we get recognized for our efforts. But deep inside we just want to relax and hang out with those we love. So why not just do that? If you feel like you need permission to do less this holiday season, consider this permission granted! We think you’ll enjoy the things you do so much more when you’re not exhausted or rushing. If you have a large family with multiple branches, there’s no need to see everyone in one day. Spread it out over a week or a weekend or throughout the whole year – that’s cool too.
If you enjoy all your current Christmas traditions, then great! But if you don’t enjoy something anymore, it’s okay to let it go. If it feels too uncomfortable letting go of too many things at once, why not pick one or two activities that are most stressful and least enjoyable, and see what it feels like to not do them this year. You might find yourself adopting Diane’s philosophy more fully in 2024!
No matter how much you’re doing this holiday season, we encourage you to take some time to take care of yourself. Thanx provides a safe, comfortable space for you to relax and recharge. We’ll even offer a no chat appointment if you just want to be quiet for a while – feel free to zone out while we pamper you. Come to change or refresh your hair, or for a fun holiday manicure or pedicure to help get you in the spirit. Some stylists will be offering extended hours or extra days during the holidays season, so keep an eye on our social media accounts for more details. You can call us at 610-779-1900 or book an appointment online. We also offer gift certificates in all denominations for services and take home products, and can also customize gifts for folks on your list to tailor to their specific needs.
This holiday season, we encourage you to slow down and consider the best way to share the love with the important people in your life. Christmas is supposed to be a celebration, and the best celebrations are about people, not details. But how can we share the love when we’re running on empty? Instead of keeping up with old traditions, maybe it’s time to start a new one that involves prioritizing quality time with others instead of snapping under the pressure.
There’s a saying, “don’t accept a shirt from a naked man.” We can’t give away what we don’t have. This Christmas, we hope you keep your shirt on.
This post was written by Amy Miller, freelance writer and Thanx superfan. You can find out more about her writing services and her personal journey at her blog: A Novelist’s Guide to Rewriting Your Life.