Nov. 27, 2019

Surviving the Holidays

Surviving the Holidays

In episode 4, Surviving the Holidays, Elaina and Tracy shared their experience with holiday stressors such as family planning and preparing for holiday gatherings, gift buying, and dealing with conflict.


Do you, at times, feel stressed or anxious about spending time with family during the holidays? Episode 4 is all about the stress of hosting, attending holiday celebrations, and dealing with certain types of members. 

In episode 4, Surviving the Holidays, Elaina and Tracy shared their experience with holiday stressors such as family planning and preparing for holiday gatherings, gift buying, and dealing with conflict. Both also share a couple of coping strategies that have helped them along the way.

The holidays for many people trigger anxiety and depression, and we’re going talk through how to manage those feelings. And discuss how to approach holidays differently to meet your needs. If you’re a person that suffers from anxiety or depression, the holidays can trigger those feelings and stressors. 

Tracy shared how, a week or two before Christmas, and I’m frantic at this point. Like, okay, I haven’t gotten a gift for anybody and then that stress that I was putting on myself, it’s self-inflicted. So, trying to prepare and plan has been one of those coping mechanisms for me to help me get through the holidays. And I think it’s crucial to try to implement and plan where you can.

Tracy shared the importance of compromise. Being married, you have to compromise where it’s like now he may want to go someplace I don’t want. So, what I’ve tried to do is set limits number of places we go to. The other thing is, let’s define the amount of time we’re spending here, and we’re going to make sure it’s equal. 

Elaina said another aspect of holidays and specifically for Christmas is gift buying; it’s not stressful for me, because we do not have to feel obligated to participate in any activities that we genuinely don’t want to join in or be around people we don’t want to be around. 

Don’t go broke trying to buy gifts. The people who love you love you for you, not for what you can do for them, and anybody that feels differently about that didn’t deserve what you were going to spend your money on them for anyway.

If you are in those family situations and there’s family conflict, just set that aside for the moment, but those differences on the back burner. Deal with that conflict at another time. If something does occur, remove yourself from the situation and have fun. 

Elaina introduced the 5,4,3,2,1 coping strategy, which is a grounding exercise aimed at reducing stress and anxiety.

Resources, Connect, Shop and Subscribe

  • Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/copequeenspodcast)
  • Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/copequeenspodcast)
  • Twitter (https://twitter.com/copequeens)
Transcript

[00:00:00] Elaina: Cope Queens episode four Surviving the Holidays. This is the fourth episode in our eight-part series, Black and Depressed. In this episode, we discuss the challenges and obstacles many of us face during in the holiday season and share coping strategies to minimize holiday stress and anxiety.

[00:00:16] You’re listening to the Cope Queens podcast where every Wednesday cohost, Elaina Jones and Tracy Hampton challenges mental health stigmas through sharing personal experiences, storytelling, interviews and round table discussions about everyday life challenges. This podcast in no way is replacement for mental health treatment. To learn more, please visit copequeens.com. Now, without further ado, let’s cope together.

[00:00:57] Hello everybody, welcome to another episode of the Cope Queens. Today we are discussing the holidays and offering up some survival tips to deal with multiple events, family gatherings, shopping, self-care around this time of year. The holidays for a lot of people triggers anxiety and depression, and we’re just going talk through how to manage those feelings. Tracy, you and I, approach holidays a little differently, because I am single, so I basically do what I wanna do. I really don’t have to consult anyone other than a 14-year-old who can’t drive. So, she really got to go where I tell her to go. But for you miss married woman, having the dual families, tell us about what that’s like.

[00:01:46] Tracy: See if we were on camera and you got to the part where you said the holidays trigger anxiety, you have saw my hand up in the air wave that like I just didn’t care. That’s just pretty much how I handle the holidays. It’s different. I’m still trying to find my sweet spot like you, I was a single woman for many, many, many years, so I got married late in life, so I got used to holidays, just me and my son. Nice and quiet. Maybe with my mom and dad, brother and sister, and that was it. Now that I’m married, going on, what, seven, eight years, husband has a bigger family. Now it’s like we’re hopping from house to house, deciding how much time we’re going to spend at this house and how much time we’re going to spend at that house and how much we’re going to cook and what we’re going to do at home. So, it’s stressful for me. And I’d have to say Elaina, maybe the first three years, I would literally get sick, especially Thanksgiving, because that’s a holiday that we, we host. We chose one holiday where we wouldn’t have to bounce around from house to house because we were the ones with the small children. So we chose Thanksgiving, but because it’s so much, because I’m not a person that likes to host and prepare and do all of that, I think mentally I would just go through something and physically it took a toll on me where I would literally end up migraine, nausea, everything under the sun where my mom would have to come in and save the day for me, and I kid you not, maybe the first three, four years, it was like that. Now I’m to the point where it doesn’t bother me as much. If you’re a person that suffers from anxiety, depression, things like that, that the holidays can just trigger those things. I have my own tips and things. I try to keep in the back of my mind to help me along so it’s not as bad as it was initially, but it is something that still happens from time to time.

[00:03:48] Elaina: Thanksgiving, I’ve done all kinds of things. I’ve gone to my aunt’s house, I’ve gone to my parents’ house, I’ve gone to my cousin’s house, and sometimes I’ll just stay home. I don’t feel the pressure to have to go somewhere. I do what I want to do. If I don’t want to do it, I’m just not gonna do it. And I don’t feel like I need to justify any reasons why I’m doing it or not doing it. And so, if I don’t attend, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. It just means that. I want to do something else. I think when my daughter was younger, it was a little more stressful because her father and I are not together, and so it was just this balancing act of Christmas Eve with him one year, Christmas day with me, or  he has her at Christmas or Thanksgiving and doing those alternating holidays. But now she’s older and they’ll spend their time together, we’ll spend our time together and it’s not an event. It’s just you can come by and hang out. he came over on Christmas Eve and he hung out with us until Christmas day and then he, went home and now keep in mind he stayed in the office on an air mattress, made that real clear.

[00:04:53] Tracy: You know I’m listening like.

[00:04:55] Elaina: I know. I know you. I can tell you that is one road that will not be traveled so I do love to host, even though I don’t do it that often, but I’m also a planner. I will plan out every single detail weeks in advance so that by the time you show up at my house, everything is done, laid out, and I’m chilling with a glass of wine and we just having a good time. my mom and my stepdad would be in the middle of it when everybody showed up. And I’m like, you gotta stop doing that. my stepfather is that person where he’d be cooking the whole time and missed the whole party. We came over here cause we want to spend time with you. We don’t want to see you still cooking and sweating. Like I won’t be around that. So, I think that lessens some of the anxiety. She still gets worked up because she is that person where if you ask someone to bring something and then they come late and I’m like, so we’ll get it when they get here. Like it’s not that big of a deal, like don’t worry about those things, and so I see that the more we do this, the less anxiety she has in the moment and then I’ve also gotten to the point where I’m like, look, go walk away.

[00:06:01] Tracy: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:06:02] Elaina: We got this. Go walk away.

[00:06:04] Tracy: That was really good tip that you gave your mom, cause that’s the tip I gave myself to kind of help me because I’m not a planner. You know, me, Elaina, I like to fly by the seat of my pants and be surprised at the end like, Oh, but that doesn’t work, and for Christmas, especially when you mentioned Christmas, I think that’s where that kind of came into play where in my mind I would always say, well, come October, I’m going to do my Christmas shopping early. I’m not going to deal with the crowds. I’m not going to be stressed out. It’ll be on my mind in the back of my mind. And then here we are a week or two before Christmas, and I’m frantic at this point. Like, okay, I haven’t gotten a gift for anybody and then that stress that I was putting on myself, it was also inflicted. So, trying to prepare and plan in advance has really been one of those coping mechanisms for me to help me get through the holidays. And I think it’s really important to try to implement and plan where you can.

[00:07:02] Elaina: Yeah, girl, whenever you want to plan call me. I got you.

[00:07:06] Tracy: Cope Queens listeners, I hope you guys hear what she’s offering, so when I call, I expect.

[00:07:13] Elaina: I’m all for it and then with that, with everything that just holidays, like even for birthday parties, like, my mom tells me for Kaiya you do too much. And I’m like, this is my baby. What you mean you guys do too much? It’s a party. I’m giving her the party I would want.

[00:07:26] Tracy: Yeah.

[00:07:26] Elaina: But then I take her to her friend’s parties and I’m like, aw, they just chilling in the garage, huh? That’s all they have to do, I guess I do, do too much, but it’s worth it. so when I think about the family gatherings you know me very well, and I’m at the point in my life where I put energy in people that I want to put energy into, and there are just some people that I have to love at a distance. And I’m also not a person who believes that DNA and blood makes us family. It makes us related. And oftentimes I think one of the stressors during the holidays is having to spend time with family members when there are conflicts that exist. if. I don’t want you a part of my life, then I don’t feel obligated to invite you to something that I’m hosting in my home. And that’s one of the things that I had to tell my mother. if you’re having conflict with someone and you don’t want that energy around, don’t feel obligated. To invite them into your home. If someone else is passionate about them being included, then they need to host the event at the house. Cause I paid the mortgage and the taxes over here. So, I decide who walks through my door and people can look at that as, ooh, she mean, no. Again, blood and DNA does not make us family, we’re relatives. And if you are a relative that brings negativity or creates conflict, I don’t have the time, or the patience and I don’t have to be around you.

[00:09:10] Tracy: Yeah.

[00:09:11] Elaina: I just don’t feel obligated to have to invite someone. So, do you all have situations where as like I’m not vibing this person, but they family, so I need to invite them.

[00:09:23] Tracy: I don’t think with anyone, it’s really deep where I’m like, oh my God I just can’t deal with that person. But there are those annoying family members that I’m like, oh, I’m not looking forward to hearing his story again, or hearing this person take over the conversation or whatever the case is. But what I’ve tried to do is, I’ve learned in one, this is something that I had to learn being married, I have to compromise. I was like you when I was single, I don’t do the gray area really well with people. It’s black or white. You either kick it or we don’t I get along with you or I don’t, and if I don’t, then we don’t have to be in each other’s face. It was simple. Being married, I have to compromise where it’s like now he may want to go someplace I really don’t want, and it’s not even affect that, okay, I don’t like x, Y, and Z, it’s like the energy just doesn’t feel right to me so what I’ve tried to do is, okay, well, we’re gonna limit if we’re gonna do this, that, and the other, let’s limit the amount of time we’re spending here, and then we’re going to do this and we’re going to make sure it’s equal.

[00:10:29] So you get what you need out of the holiday. I get what I need out of the holiday. And then we’re both satisfied. So, I’ve learned to try to suck things up for a little bit, and if there’s certain conversations on that are going to trigger me, I stay away from it. And sometimes I’m like, you know what? I’m just going to smile and just keep it general. So that’s how I cope through when it’s an annoying family member or just annoy friend I don’t want to particularly be around, but it does help me to deal with it and make it through the day.

[00:11:00] Elaina: Okay. That’s very mature of you.

[00:11:03] Tracy: Look it took 44 years to get to this point, but I tell you in my mind it’s all totally different conversation going on.

[00:11:15] Elaina: That’s the thing. It’s like if I go to a family member’s house and there’s relatives there that I don’t really vibe would, or an associate of theirs or a friend that I don’t really vibe with, then I just have conversations with, with other people. I don’t intentionally try to be rude, like, you’ll get a hello, how you’re doing, but that’s probably about it. It’s probably not going to go beyond that. And I’m okay with that. And I’ve always been that person where you either rock with me or you don’t, and I’m okay either way.

[00:11:42] Tracy: Yeah.

[00:11:43] Elaina: My world is not going to stop orbiting if we have conflict or we’re not vibing as long as there’s this mutual respect, that’s fine. If do you have the family conflict for the greater good of just everyone involved, it’s best to just set those differences aside for that moment. You don’t have to directly interact with each other. You can create that distance and be respectful and be pleasant. And enjoy yourself because it’s about celebrating. For me, holidays are about spending that time with family just to show appreciation and and being grateful and celebrating and having those moments of creating the memories. And so, I can put my differences on the back burner and just have a good time. life is so stressful that sometimes you just need to let your hair down and just have fun and when we’re around those family members that we probably don’t necessarily want to be around we do take the moment and set those differences aside for that time and keep it moving.

[00:12:44] Tracy: Before we were talking about those positive affirmations and quotes when you think about being around those unpleasant family members, that’s another thing that has worked for me sometimes I pull out, whether it’s a scripture, it’s a quote, something like, even if it’s something as short as Lord, give me strength. Saying that out loud maybe that’s something that can be done in order to help you deal with that, that uncomfortable family situation.

[00:13:12] Elaina: Then the other aspect of holidays and specifically for Christmas is gift buying, so it’s not stressful for me. In the sense that I don’t try to buy for everybody. And I only have one child. I don’t feel obligated to have to buy gifts for everyone. My issue is Kaiya, she is one of the coolest kids I’ve ever encountered. And I’m not just saying that because she’s mine. She truly is a cool kid and she’s so grateful and appreciative of whatever she gets that I think that I sometimes go overboard, even if I set a budget. I still find myself doing too much. I might say, oh, I’m only went by these three things. I think it was worse when she was younger because she was into so many toys and things like that. And now that she’s older, she has very specific tastes, but I will go all out. Like one year she was really into, creating her own beats. So, I bought a beat machine and I bought different books and all those things that support that. And one year she wanted to learn computer coding. Well, I’m buying programs and all this other stuff that goes with it. And she may have just asked, but like one thing, well, I’m buying everything that you need to learn this I think for a lot of people it’s our way of showing love, but, and I don’t really know where it comes from. If it’s just we want to make them feel good or we want them to be happy, or if that’s our way of showing that we love and appreciate them. I know for me it’s, it’s gratitude because I’m grateful that she is such a cool kid and she’s a good kid and I want to show that I appreciate her hard work and so I think I sometimes do too much, even if she didn’t ask for it. I go above and beyond my budget almost every year.

[00:15:05] Tracy: Yeah. That’s a good point though Elaina, cause I think that gift buying aspect of the holidays is something else that can be really stressful for folks cause a lot of times people want to keep up with the Joneses especially if you have teenagers it’s at the point now where back when I was young, when I became a teenager, we got a couple of a hundred dollars, maybe a hundred depending on how good that year was, and that was Christmas. Now it’s like these kids iPhones and MacBooks and all these expensive things and because we want to give our kids the best, we put that pressure and stress on ourselves to get, especially like you said have a great kid at home. You want to give them any and everything they ask for. So that I think within itself can cause that stress. But I think it’s really looking at, you mentioned the whole gratitude thing, which I think is so important. Just really thinking about, what the holidays are for and trying to help our kids see that. I told my son this year, what we were gonna do was, and I, I wanted to do this for Thanksgiving, don’t know if it’s gonna happen, but I wanted us to take time and just volunteer at a shelter. Just so it’s not always about us it’s not about the gifts. I think that one would take the stress off of me, cause I’ll feel like I’m giving back to the community, to someone else, but then also help him to see, what the holidays are about and, kind of maybe shift that whole, it’s all about me attitude that’s going on. I think it can get out of control, the spending, and then January comes and you’re stressing out about the debt and how I’m going to pay these credit cards and things off really thinking about what the holidays are for and thinking about are there some new holiday traditions I can instill in my family or start with my family. That was sort of take the shift off of the gift aspect of it and the giving part.

[00:17:01] Elaina: That’s a cool way of looking at it, It’s like, what new traditions can we implement that aren’t tied to going to Black Friday sales and standing in line in Walmart for 15 hours to get an item because we want a discount.  Sometimes we take it to extremes, like when people are fighting in stores for the last toy on a shelf, like, come on

[00:17:24] Tracy: Something seriously wrong at that point I’m sorry.

[00:17:26] Elaina: I refuse to believe that it’s about the toy.

[00:17:30] Tracy: It’s the stress.

[00:17:31] Elaina: And the anxiety, and we have to take time out for ourselves during the holidays go to our own happy place. And I think that’s why I got into the habit of just picking and choosing what I did and what it didn’t do, and, and not apologize for it. because it can be overwhelming. and that was just one of the things that I just didn’t, I feel like out of everything that I can control, that was something that I had somewhat of control over  one method that is helpful for anyone out there planning holidays or you have to prepare  to face family or travel identify what’s causing the stress. And truly acknowledge it, face it head on. If it’s, I don’t want to go to aunt Susie’s because uncle Bobby gets drunk and he starts running off at the mouth and it just makes me uncomfortable and he gets to close whatever it is, acknowledge that’s the trigger for you and then come up with a plan of how to remove yourself from that situation. And another technique it’s called the five, four, three, two, one coping technique. And it is a technique that really helps you focus on your five senses, and it’s supposed to help you bring down your anxiety. So, for example, you would acknowledge five things that you see around you. So, whether it’s the floor or a plant or a clock, you would. Say, five things you see around you. you acknowledge four things that you can touch. your shirt, your hair, a table of lamp, four things around you that you can touch. three things that you can hear the dryer running in the background, or you hear your mother laughing in the kitchen three things that you can hear. Two things that you could smell. So, grandma’s sweet potato pie in the oven aunt Becky’s, potato salad, whatever it is.  And then one, thing that you can taste in your mouth. So whether you just had that sweet potato pie, you can still taste the nutmeg you focus on those things and you focus on your breathing to reduce those feelings of being overwhelmed or anxious there’s been times even at family gatherings where I’ve stepped away from the crowd,  to just take a deep breath and a moment to myself.

[00:19:41] Tracy: I love that. I’ve never heard of that before, but it’s worth a try.

[00:19:45] Elaina: All right everybody, well, if you want to learn more about, the five, four, three, two, one coping strategy, go ahead over to copequeens.com we will have it posted up there and again, for the holidays, look, just take time for yourself. I may be wrong, but I’m telling you, I just don’t feel like we have to feel obligated to participate in any activities that we truly don’t want to participate in or be around people we don’t want to be around. but if you are in those family situations and there’s family conflict just set that aside for the moment, put those differences on the back burner. Deal with that conflict at another time. If something does occur, remove yourself from the situation and just have fun and don’t go broke trying to buy gifts. The people who love you,  love you for you, not for what you can do for them and anybody that feels differently about that didn’t deserve what you was going to spend your money on them for anyway, so all right everybody, so thank you all again for joining us for another episode. Thank you for coping with us today and we will catch you next time.

[00:20:53] Tracy: Happy holidays.

[00:20:56] You’ve reached the end of another episode of the Coke Queens podcast. Thank you for coping with us today and we hope you’ll join us for the next episode. Until then, connect with us on Twitter @CopeQueens.

Tracy Hampton

Learning and Development Consultant