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GLBT Holiday Stress? 7 Tips For Having Less!

I used to hate this time of year. Holidays are a stressful time - full of obligations, responsibilities and, of course, relatives. Because of the varying views on homosexuality, holidays can be particularly stressful for the GLBT Community. 

For some people it is difficult because they are not out. The last minute renovations to turn the dining room into you partner's "bedroom". The endless conversations regarding your single status (your not getting any younger you know...). Your mother's updates on every perspective bachelor in the county. Or, the separate holiday - where you and your partner head off to your families of origin to be traumatized alone, then return later to exchange horror stories over much deserved cocktails. 

For some people holidays are stressful because they are out: the looks, the whispers, the really uncomfortable obligatory hugs, and your father's visibly painful handshake with your "special friend". I get tense just thinking about it. 

And for some of us the holidays are a mixed bag of stressors. My family, for instance, doesn't get along very well. My mother is divorced from my father, who now has a girlfriend with three kids. She also doesn't speak to her parents, my grandparents. None of them are particularly comfortable with my sexuality. This means that every Thanksgiving and Christmas I need to get up early, go to my father's house, celebrate, go to my mothers house, celebrate, go to my grandparents house, celebrate, then proceed to celebrate with my partner and her family. It is no fun, not to mention exhausting. If you've never seen "Home for the Holidays", directed by Jodie Foster, it's a holiday must see - if only for the sake of comparison. 

If any of this is sounding familiar, you might be asking yourself - how could we end this madness? Well, the answer, my friend, is within you. 

My epiphany came when my partner and I adopted our son. I didn't want him growing up with the same negative feelings surrounding holidays that I had. I wanted him to experience the wonder and excitement and enjoy the feelings of love and community that are supposed to accompany this time of year. I decided to change my perspective. 

Your perspective is the looking glass through which you see the world. It is central to how you experience emotions, situations, and life in general. By shifting your perspective you can in effect change you experience. Let's say, for example, you enter your holiday situation with a "defensive" perspective (you are dreading the event, you are anticipating difficulties with your family, and you are gearing up to protect yourself). Chances are that you are stressed before you enter the room. 

However, if we reframe that perspective, shifting it towards a perspective of "challenge"(you see this family situation as a challenge - and opportunity to exercise your cooperative ability and creative problem solving skills) and "commitment" (you are committed to having a positive experience - because this is your holiday and you are in control of your emotions) the end result can be a much happier, even joyous holiday.

7 Tips for having a less stressful holiday

1) Be well rested (don't stay up late the night before worrying - or wrapping for that matter). 

2) Have a positive perspective (and stick with it). 

3) Be yourself (have confidence in who you are - be proud). 

4) Be grateful (for all the good things you have in your life). 

5) Don't over indulge (especially in perception altering substances like alcohol). 

6) Give yourself a break (if you need to take a walk - or a nap). 

7) Embrace the spirit of the holidays (kindness, compassion, gratefulness and love)

Yes, there will still be "Christmas Vacation" moments, but you can control the extent to which you respond to them. Open your self to the possibility that the holidays can be joyous, and you might just find yourself whistling along with some of those Christmas carols.

© DJ Martin, All Rights Reserved
DJ Martin is a Writer and Life Coach living in the Chicago area where she is the owner of PRIDE Life

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