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Taking Care of Your Mental Health Over The Holidays.

The We Create Space Team share their top tips and strategies for managing their mental health during the tumult of the holiday season.

An illustration of a laptop with a pie chart and line graph behind it. There are coins and notes strewn around the laptop and a potted plant to the right.

The holiday season is supposed to be a joyous time of year, but for some of us it can also be a difficult and stressful period, especially in the Queer Community. Whether it's the density of social commitments, complicated relationships with our family or discomfort with food, alcohol and other excesses, there are plenty of reasons why the holiday season can put a strain on our mental health.


We spoke to members of the We Create Space team and Global Speaker Collective to hear how they manage this tricky time of year and have compiled their advice into some helpful tips!


1. Be attentive to your feelings and create space to reflect.

While it can be tempting to simply suppress negative emotions, this will be a disservice to yourself in the long run. Understanding why you're having an emotional reaction to something and being compassionate with yourself about it will go a long way to making the situation more tolerable.

"Pay close attention to your mind, body and emotions. Create space to understand your thoughts, actions and behaviours. Intentional moments of self-reflection can help us all approach the holidays with a little more self-compassion and kindness." - Michael Stephens

Recognise that you are human and have your limits - there is nothing wrong with withdrawing when you need to!

"It can be overwhelming or tiring to have to engage constantly, especially in environments or conversations that can be triggering. Recognise when it becomes too much, and it's okay to remove yourself from a specific situation or conversation." - Gurchaten Sandhu


2. Embrace kindness.

Consider your internal monologue: how are you talking to yourself during this time? Let go of self-criticism and try to speak to yourself as though you are your best friend. Embracing positive self-talk will have a big influence on your mindset.

"We put so much energy into the year, it makes sense that by the end we can be tired or less enthused. My top tip is kindness. Being gentle with myself, talking nicely to myself. And sometimes just a little mantra like 'you deserve rest'." - Char Bailey


3. Carve out time for yourself and honour your needs.

The holidays disrupt our normal routine and while this can provide much needed time to unwind and rest, it can also throw us off and stop us from engaging in constructive behaviours and grounding habits we use throughout the rest of the year.

"I journal every night, particularly during the holidays as a way to carve out time to process any sense of overwhelm. As an introvert, I make sure to have quiet moments on my own to recharge, away from family and festivities." - David Kam

Try and make time to do something by yourself every day that brings you joy or grounds you, whether it's journaling, meditation, listening to music or moving your body:

"The festive break doesn’t always give us the rest we need after a busy year. It’s important to respect & honour our own needs, boundaries & enjoyment during the season of giving & sharing. So I try to create moments where I can do that. Even on Christmas morning, I’ll take myself out for a run before everyone wakes up. That way, I get a bit of personal headspace - & physical space - and I’m charged up ready to enjoy the day with loved ones!" - Neil Hudson-Basing





4. Embrace your chosen family.

As queer people, our chosen family may be just as important to us as our biological family. If you have a difficult relationship with your biological family or feel like you can't be your true self in front of them, remember to lean on the queer connections that keep you centred.

"My very existence goes against the typical binary narrative and therefore I'm not looking to fit in with society's 'normal'. I am surrounded by chosen family and that's what makes me happy. Knowing that I am surrounded by acceptance and love really helps to drown out anything that would otherwise disrupt or de-rail my mental health." - Eva Echo

If you can't be with them in person, organising regular time to call and debrief can be a great way to get the support you need in a challenging home environment.


5. Choose your battles.

Spending time with family or old friends who don't fully understand or embrace your identity can bring up a host of difficult emotions. How you decide to manage moments of conflict is up to you and should be based on what will best serve you. You have every right to confront microaggressions and prejudice, but it is also okay to simply remove yourself from the situation if you are not in the place to deal with it.

"Finding the balance between standing up for myself and knowing when I need to let things go for my own mental health has been crucial for me. For example, I don't have the energy to correct people every time they misgender me, but if someone says something that truly upsets me, I know I need to pull them aside and attempt to remedy that situation rather than stew in it." - Jua O'Kane

6. Affirm and remind yourself of who you are.

As queer people, being in our hometown or surrounded by extended family can make us feel like the odd one out. Ground yourself and be confident in who you are, perhaps recalling your favourite moments of queer joy.

"Remind yourself that you are comfortable in your own body, that other people's opinions or negativity take nothing away from you. Your strength is not threatened by other people's dominance or assertion of validity. It can be tough but affirming your own sense of self works for a reason." - Ben Pechey


 

While you're here...


Did you know we consult with Businesses, ERGs and Change-Leaders providing bespoke corporate solutions? Through consultancy we design shared learning experiences, produce DEI insights and craft bespoke content that support individuals with strengthening their roles as change-agents within their communities and organisations. Find out more here.


We also organise FREE community events throughout the year! We offer a variety of ways to get involved - both online and in person. This is a great way to network and learn more about others' experiences, through in-depth discussion on an array of topics. You can find out what events we have coming up here. New ones are added all the time, so make sure you sign up to our newsletter so you can stay up to date!

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