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Resources/ hacks for mental health during the holiday season?

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I find the holiday season very stressful. Let's just say it, I have come to hate Christmas. Advice for dealing with family dynamics/ maintaining mental health during the holiday season? I find the holidays, especially Christmas, incredibly stressful. If it were up to me, I would stay home with my husband, go on a nice walk, cook dinner together, and maybe go to the movies -- basically a chill day off from work. We did get a nice at-home Christmas last year thanks to Covid. But now we are back to regular Christmas which this year involves a long flight, hours of driving, balancing the schedules of both our families, spending way too much on gifts, and receiving gifts that will inevitably go straight to Goodwill— all in a boring, suburban environment.

And worst of all to me is dealing with this tug of war between my family of origin and my in-laws, in terms of how much time we spend with each one and which one is perceived as being prioritized.

Staying home or going on vacation just the two of us, is a no-go for my husband. He thinks it’s cruel to basically leave his parents sitting at home alone. There’s lots of duty/ obligation with my family too.

I know that every conversation with my mom for the next three months will include a run-down of the Christmas week schedule, and my head very well may explode this year after last year's taste of sweet freedom. I get so stressed and really struggle to enjoy anything about it, basically just try to get through it without lashing out or melting down.

Anyone else go through this? Any sage advice for maintaining mental health this year, and potentially even breaking out of this cycle in future years?


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