The holiday season can be a time of both joy and stress, particularly for members of the LGBTQ+ community who may not always find themselves in welcoming environments. This quick guide offers five valuable tips to help you make the most of the holidays, whether you're celebrating with your biological family, chosen family, or on your own.
1. Identify Your Support System: Reach out to trusted friends and loved ones who understand and appreciate your unique experiences. Let them know what kind of support you need, whether it's affirmations, a safe space to vent, an accountability partner, or something else. For those who thrive on words of affirmation, ask your support system to record short, uplifting messages that you can listen to whenever you need a boost. If quality time is your love language, plan meaningful and affirming activities like crafting, volunteering, letter-writing, or a virtual movie night. Remember, your support system can provide comfort and connection even when you're physically distant. Even if you're not out to all your friends or family, know that your support system embraces your most authentic self.
2. Honor Your Authenticity: Work with someone you trust to create a script or practice conversations that help you assert your boundaries gracefully. When faced with uncomfortable or unsafe questions, you'll be better prepared to respond with confidence and reduced anxiety. Be ready to defend your sense of self and peace of mind. You can choose to educate, confront, or disengage from uncomfortable conversations without compromising your needs or authenticity. It's perfectly acceptable to step away when necessary.
3. Plan an Exit Strategy: Identify safe spaces and supportive people to lean on during the holidays. If possible, plan to leave events early or secure a hotel room to limit your exposure to potentially challenging family situations. Ask a supportive friend to give you a call so you can step outside for some fresh air if needed. Consider reaching out to an LGBTQ+ affirming hotline for additional resources and support. Creating physical and emotional distance, along with engaging in stress-reduction activities, can help you maintain your sanity.
4. Decompress: Make time for activities that ground you and provide relief from holiday stress. While the season can be bustling and chaotic, remember to slow down and prioritize your mental and emotional well-being. After a stressful interaction, follow it up with a pleasurable activity like reading, writing, physical movement, baking, spending time with your chosen family, or indulging in self-care to reward yourself for navigating the holidays.
5. Create Rituals: Consider attending a service at an LGBTQ+ affirming place of worship, celebrating traditional holidays with your chosen family, or establishing new traditions within your queer community. Supporting local LGBTQ+ owned businesses is another meaningful way to protect your values and celebrate the holiday season. Remember that this is a temporary period, and revisiting old places or memories doesn't erase your personal growth or journey. Embrace your space, practice self-love, and seek support from those you trust.
Incorporating these tips can help you navigate the holiday season with greater ease, ensuring your well-being remains a top priority. Remember that you are resilient, and you deserve to enjoy the holidays while staying true to yourself.