No Place Like Home For The Holidays
As the saying goes, “there’s no place like home for the holidays” – and even after all of the time we have spent indoors, home can still feel comforting. We may not have our traditional celebrations, office parties, or special get-togethers with close friends because we are still dealing with the pandemic. But for some neurodivergent folks, celebrating on a lesser scale may be a blessing in disguise. The American Psychological Association found that 38% of people say their stress increases during the holidays but that stress may decrease this year due to less social pressure. So in the spirit of lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness, let’s focus on the ways to make the 2021 holiday season merry and bright.
If you are someone who loves consistency, this year’s holiday season may feel easier. There is likely to be less of the holiday chaos, and fewer festive events that you may feel obligated to attend.
You may have people that you haven’t seen in awhile coming over for a holiday meal. Your guests will be so excited to see you, to spend time with you, and likely not judgemental about what you are serving. If you do want to try a new recipe, or make an indulgent dessert, why not include guests in the preparation? The focus should be on the joy of being together and if things really go awry, you can always order a pizza. For those who really love to cook, why not prepare extras of your favorite holiday treats and share with your neighbors. You will truly make someone’s day!
For those of us who are not comfortable with a lot of physical contact, this will be a much more relaxed season as there might not be any hugs, kisses or handshakes. This is the year for a fistbump or an elbow bump to say “hello.” And if even that level of contact is not comfortable for you, just give a friendly wave and warmly say, “Happy Holidays!”
And even if you are home, you can always go for a walk outside. A fun afternoon activity is going to a local orchard to pick apples or take an early evening stroll to admire your neighbors’ holiday decorations. You can even drive to the beach and watch the sunrise or sunset. The fresh air will feel great!
Being home also means you can wear your comfy clothes and not max out your credit card buying fancy outfits for holiday parties or trying to win the “ugly sweater contest.” And you may be pleasantly surprised how much fun you can have hanging out with your family. Plan movie nights, or watching sports nights, or binge-your-favorite-show nights. You may feel quite content hanging out with your family and watching TV from your couch.
And if the holidays make you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself that it takes true strength to ask for assistance. Reach out to a trusted person in your life such as a parent, good friend or Life Coach. Let them know you need support during the holiday season. And as always, there is no “right” way to celebrate the season, do whatever it is that works for you.
From all of us at Advance LA, we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and all the best in 2022!
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS
Jeri Rochman, JD, MS, is the Advance LA Director of Community Outreach, a Life Skills Coach, National Board Certified Counselor and Certified Parent Educator. Interested in learning more about Advance LA’s services?