For some, going home for the holidays is the most wonderful time of the year. But for others, it can be a mixture of stress, anxiety, excitement, fear, and a whole host of other emotions. For members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the choice to go home for the holidays may hinge on whether they feel safe, accepted, and/or welcome to celebrate with their family of origin. For others, the choice may simply be to celebrate with their chosen family instead. Either way, developing a Cope Ahead Plan can be an effective way to navigate the holidays and keep your mental health intact.
4 Elements to Include in Your Cope Ahead Plan:
Make a plan.
At any family gathering there is typically one family member you can rely on for the inappropriate or uncomfortable comment. Anticipate it and plan for how you’re going to handle it. Remember, it’s important to keep your safety at the forefront of your decisions. Sometimes standing up for your community feels like the “right” thing to do, but it may not be the safest for that situation.
Pick your person.
Choose one person you can rely on to help you navigate a stressful situation. If your person is not also at the gathering, make sure they are someone you can text or call at any time.
Be kind to yourself.
Your wellbeing and needs are just as important as your family of origin’s. You can care for your family and for yourself at the same time. Engage in positive self-talk and allow yourself to put your own needs first, but without the guilt.
Plan your escape.
Sometimes, despite all your planning things just don’t work out. In this case, you may need to leave the gathering for your own safety and/or mental health. Drive yourself to the family gathering so that you can leave on your own accord. If you can’t physically leave, identify a place in the house or nearby that you can go to get privacy and collect your thoughts.
However and with whoever you celebrate this season, we wish you a happy and safe holidays!