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How to survive the holidays

Starting with Halloween, the holiday season is my favorite time of year. Yet, I cannot ignore the fact that I have struggled through it many times in the past. Last Christmas I was actually in one of the lowest slumps I had ever seen. The depression was crippling. I wanted to enjoy Christmas time, but I could hardly get out of the bed some days. I also watch very important family members struggle through this season year after year. So, I am familiar with the ways that this time of year can bring out the worst for people living with mental illness. It is not a hard time just for us though. Many people struggle through the holiday season. As I mentioned, last Christmas I was in survival mode. I was using every single tool that I had in my kit just to make it to the next day. This holiday season, I am committed to living every day intentionally and I want to help you to do the same. Here are some simple steps to living this holiday season with joy and inspiration.

Write down what you want from this season.

What do you want from this season? If everything happened perfectly, what would that look like? What are some of the events that would take place in your perfect holiday world? Ask yourself these questions and write each thing down. Be clear about exactly what you want. This doesn’t have to be done through a fancy vision board or anything. Just grab an old notebook and jot down what you really want in the present tense as if it is already happening. When you do, notice how it feels and write that down.

 For instance, my notebook would say something like: “Every family member who is important to me is at our family gathering enjoying themselves through laughter and chatter. I am so joyful, grateful, and at peace.” After you do this, notice what you are doing to realize your vision. Choose one small thing that you could add daily to help your vision come to life. For me, that might be calling a different family member every day and encouraging them to join the family gathering.

Self- care, self- care, self- care.

I am here to give you the permission to do exactly what you need to do to make this season as painless as possible. I don’t know what your self-care looks like for you- maybe its warm baths at night or making sure you exercise a few times a week (I think I might do a whole post just on self- care alone!). Whatever it is, do it shamelessly. You deserve to take care of yourself and it is actually vital to making sure you can endure the stress that comes with the holiday season. 

Take care of you first.

Ever heard the saying “you can’t pour from an empty glass”? Tis’ true. If you are constantly pouring to the point where you have nothing to give yourself, you will also have nothing for the rest of the world. It’s kind of like on airplanes when they tell you, in the case of an emergency, to secure your own oxygen mask first. That is what I am saying here. Make sure that your needs are met first, then worry about family and friends. 

Feel free to say no. 

Here’s the thing, the holidays can be so stressful when we do not practice this skill. So, practice. My rule for the holidays is “less is more”. There is only room to really enjoy so much. You can’t be in two places at once and trying to bake those cookies for both your aunt’s and your best friend’s parties is only going to add to your already full plate. So feel free to say no to some things this season. 

Say yes to the things that truly excite you.

This doesn’t mean that you are boring or want to say no to everything. It just means that you respect your own time enough to only give it to those things that you really actually want to do. This also clears up your schedule for you to partake in more things that actually bring you joy. So love on you and say yes, but only to those things that evoke true excitement.
Be consistent with routines

This is speaking from a place of experience with severe depression. If I had not been consistent with my medication, meeting with my therapist, and meeting with my psychiatrist, I might not have made it through last holiday season. So make and keep your appointments. Be consistent with taking your meds if you are on them. Also, develop a routine for the morning and night that you can come back to throughout the season. Last holiday season, I spent every morning doing a two hour long devotional. That got me through. I will do a holiday morning routine that might help you with some ideas on how to make your morning routine more intentional.

Spend time with the Creator. 

Spending time alone with God daily is one sure fire way to make sure that I am really living every day with expectation. This can be through prayer, meditation, devotion, or spending time in scripture. Just allot time to just be alone with him and make this your ritual. Maybe you’re not a believer; that is okay. Maybe for you this looks like spending time in nature, meditating, or doing yoga. I spend time with God because that is how I find my center. Find whatever helps you find yours and do it daily. 

Listen to your inner voice.

This will guide you through the season. This is the voice that tells you when enough is enough or when you need to actually get out of the house and do a little bit more. Listen to that voice. It will help you prevent burn out. It will direct you when you have convictions on anything. Let it be your guardian. I know that this time is particularly hard for survivors of trauma because we are faced with the possibility of seeing our abusers. This voice will tell you exactly what you need and I invite you to do just that, nothing more nothing less. Trust it. 

What are some things you are looking forward to or dreading this season? Let me know in the comments! Also, please subscribe and join us on Facebook at! Happiest of holidays!

As always with love,
Alli B
Sonny B
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Alli B is the voice behind She is a self-defined weird (queer) black woman who is a survivor of mental illness and childhood sexual trauma. She is a lover of people and a lover of God. Alli’s mission in life is to empower and inspire those who have gone through or who are going through any type of darkness. Her loves are her family, books, writing, movies, and football (Go Broncos!). The boring stuff: Alli received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University in 2013. She is now working on her Master’s degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology and is expected to graduate in May of 2018. Alli's goal is to work with underserved populations of women and children through private practice. Her life goals include: running a successful blog, publishing her books, and becoming a successful therapist.

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