Stress in December (part 2/2)…
Managing the different parts of our selves and identities during stressful times such as Christmas isn’t simply about seeking affirmation. For many it can be the difference between being harmed or staying safe around others.
Staying quiet about your mental health struggles around people who are unsupportive might be the best option for you. Some queer folks might have to be closeted around family members. Being over/under stimulated as a neurodivergent person in a neurotypical environment is often hard work. Family and cultural expectations to be joyful when you feel otherwise can be isolating.
Keeping parts of who you are closed off to others, if this is within your control, might be the only option to get through the holiday period. This isn’t avoidance, it’s making use of very limited options in stressful circumstances to minimise the impact of boundary violations to you.
We do not always have a full range of options available for support. If you’re struggling it doesn’t mean you’re not coping, it means you’re at capacity.
Practising re-connecting with parts of your self and identity can be a form of self-regulating, trying to be soothed amongst distress. Some options are:
Spending time on your own,
Routines, rituals, and habits that allow you to connect comfortably with your self,
Making contact with something physical external to you (clothing, water, pen and paper, stimming toys) when connecting with internal emotions and body sensations are overwhelming,
Stamp your feet or clench/unclench your fists,
Walk barefoot to make contact with the ground,
Curl up somewhere quiet,
Using social media to look at and read about others with shared identities,
Making contact with your chosen family and community.