Choosing Not To Go Home For The Holidays (For Your Health)
A trained and passionate musician, my practice is inspired by holistic and integrative theories that inform a practice that is expressed uniquely with each individual patient with whom I work. I am inspired to help others discover how to get creative and how to develop a voice which is integral to emotional development.
Do you want to go home for the holidays? Are you going home because it is tradition or expectation? Is it the thing everyone in your family is doing and you’re expected to do it too? Is it safe for you to go home? Is it healthy for you this year?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can make your choice. It’s important to remember that your options don’t have to fall into tradition or expectations. While it’s often an unconsidered option (or one that causes a lot of anxiety about family reactions), you can not go home at all. Even though it might not be the conventional choice, it can often be the right one.
What you do for the holidays is your choice
During the holidays, I find many patients in my NYC therapy practice want to not go home for the holidays and need help making this hard decision. As the holidays approach, everyone talks about where they are going, what they are doing and who they are seeing. Many people, who talk about their holiday plans, reference what they and their family have been doing for years, but don’t often see that they have a choice. But, it’s important to remember you do have options and that includes not going home.
This is not an easy choice
Choosing not to go home is hard. It never comes easy or in a sweet moment. It’s painful to grieve the loss of this tradition, location, relational activity or expectation.
Particularly around the holidays, there are a lot of expectations. In my NYC therapy practice, I’ve noticed that many people feel they have to go home because that’s what has been happening for their entire lifetime or because they need to take care of an older family member. Many also feel that going home is the only way families show closeness. There is also pressure to live up to expectations as the good son/daughter, big brother/sister, little brother/sister, helper, peacemaker, scapegoat, only child, or fun-maker.
Your family, including you, will need to work through the pain of being disappointed or need to grieve when you choose not to go home. Patients often need to talk about this a lot and collaborate in their community with those that support this shift and know why they needed to not go home.
When choosing to not go home, you will still be sad, in pain, or lose some sleep because of the limit or change. But you can also choose to not go home this year in a self-caring and proud way.
Revise Holiday Plans In A Proud, Self-Caring Way
It is an empowering decision to revise expectations–both your family’s expectations of you, as well as your expectations of your family. It is important to be curious about expectations, as well as be willing to revise and renovate them. In short, reorganizing the relationship and/or the activity is normal to do over the course of our lives. This choice to not go home for the holiday can be part of reorganizing.
But that doesn’t mean it might not feel intimidating to do. You will need to think and talk through what you need for your holiday, as well as how you want to execute this both practically and in your relationships. Don’t be limited in your needs. Lay them out as facts and then, plan. After this, you can initiate that plan to not go home.
So here’s how you pull it off: You plan what you want to or need to do this holiday. You state it proudly to your family both here in NYC and outside that this is your choice this year. You help lead them so that there is no wiggle room in the plan. In this, you are in charge of the narrative and your own self-care. There is now an option that something different can be done and you can survive changing the expectation or the plan.
The Holiday Empowerment Ripple Effect
Even after the holidays, there can be a positive ripple effect in choosing not to go home. If you take better care of yourself over a holiday break–maybe by staying in New York, or renting a place upstate with friends, your partner, your kids, or your parent/parents, you will feel less depleted. You also are developing as a grown up. Leading your relationship with yourself and others in new ways is developmentally how we learn and grow. Practically, there will be positive side effects: Maybe you’ll feel energized, which leads to being able to sleep better, eat better, think better, breathe better, work better and even dress or look better. Then, there are relational and developmental changes. Leading with your needs or wants in your relationships can add complexity to your role and further develop your position in your relationship with your parents, partner, kids, boss, business, friends, or siblings. You will definitely have more space for creativity and for yourself to grow more emotionally.
Evaluating your holiday activities, relationships, trips and family time is key in figuring out how you want to relate to your family and their expectations or traditions. At times, you can gain empathy for your family by being both protective of and proactive with your role and location in the family. This is an important development that happens as we grow both in our lives and relationships. Changing how you do your holiday season can also change how you do 2017 and beyond.