In our NYC therapy practice, we know that the holidays can be a particularly stressful time for people. In a previous blog post, Rachael asserted that even with expectations from family members, it’s okay not to go home for the holidays and depending on the situation, it may even be better for your health not to go. Whether family obligations or numerous holiday party invitations, worries about the holidays can feel burdensome, which is why Refinery29 spoke to Tribeca Therapy on sitting out the seemingly required holiday events this season.
Talking to Refinery29’s Sara Coughlin, our director Matt discussed how people can decide to set limits with family or friends, or even, just not attend these holiday functions all together. In most cases, stress about the holidays often has to do with family, either the one they’re spending the holidays with currently or the ones they did when they were a kid (often these are the same people). As Matt explained in the article, “Not everyone’s holidays were pleasant as kids and those memories can run deep…As much as people talk about pleasant memories, associations, rituals, and smells, those same experiences for many people are unpleasant.”
With family, limit setting can be key and can offer an essential break, whether getting a hotel room rather than staying at your parents’ house, making plans with friends or even, planning a phone call with friends elsewhere. However, as Matt details, “There are instances where it’s best not to spend time with family (or to really minimize it)…we tend to organize holiday priorities out of obligation rather than preference. That’s backwards.”
Of course, there are occasionally times when you force yourself to attend a holiday gathering and you find you have a better time than you thought. However, a general rule should be: if it’s not fun, it’s better not to go. If you chose not to go, most healthy people will understand that not everyone can attend and will leave it at that. If there’s an expectation of a need to explain more, that’s likely because the person you’re explaining it to isn’t so healthy.