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Empath Survival: The Holidays

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Ahhhh the holiday season is once again upon us, the most wonderful time of the year. Gatherings with family and friends, endless shopping trips, and fighting holiday crowds and parking lots are synonymous with the holiday season. For those along the empathic spectrum, the holidays can be a literal nightmare amplified by ones empathic abilities. Joy can quickly turn to stress, gatherings to controlled chaos, and, if you are alone for the holidays, the yuletide season can spiral into deep depression. Believe me, I'm no expert, but here are some holiday hacks that will help you maintain your sanity.

Shop Online

I have successfully avoided a lot of physical shopping by placing my trust in the internet Gods. It allows me to get everything need/want without leaving the comfort of my home and pajamas. You can find just as many, if not more, great deals and discounts shopping online as you would through retail stores. From Amazon to Etsy, everyone will be running deep discounted sales on Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is the online equivalent to Black Friday/Boxing Day. It occurs the Monday after Black Friday which follows the American Thanksgiving Day. This year, Cyber Monday occurs on December 2nd. One of my best tips for shopping online is to spend the weekend preceding finding all the items you want to purchase and placing them into an online wish list or jotting them down in a notebook. Once you have this list, remember that most online stores will have their Cyber Monday deals up one minute after midnight. It may be a late Sunday night but you'll be glad you did it when you don't have to shield your energy to brave the insanity of holiday shoppers.

Avoid Regular Shopping Hours

I have had the distinct honor of being jammed into the ails of stores. Flipped off and cut off in store parking lots. Not to mention the hateful slurs of overzealous consumers for whom I did not move fast enough. I don't know about around the world, but here in America stores generally close later and open earlier to accommodate the holiday rush. Do yourself a favor and shop when most people won't be shopping. This may mean some really early mornings or shopping in the middle of the night. I personally don't mind so long as I avoid the masses and keep my sanity.

Don't Shop!

If you want to avoid all aspects of the anxiety of shopping, discourage mass consumerism, and/or want to save a little cash, don't do it! My family is, and always has been, big on homemade gift giving. I've made candles, my grandmother and aunt used to crochet blankets, my mother is the queen of massive tins of holiday sweets, and my cousin has even made jelly and jam baskets. Making gifts is often more special than buying what already exists. It shows that you've put thought and, more importantly, worked hard to create something special for those who matter the most to you. This avenue of gift giving also allows those of us with creative minds to engage those muscles and get in a little holiday meditation, grounding and centering while crafting our creations.

Plan an Escape Route

When it comes to gatherings of family and friends we may welcome them, we may attend out of obligation, or we may find that as much as we love socializing with everyone it leaves us exhausted and moving through the holidays like a zombie. Holiday gatherings are sensory overload on every level. All the hugs, lights, loud conversations made worse by one too many eggnogs. No matter which scenarios apply to you, always plan an escape route as soon as you arrive to a gathering. This is so you can get away from all the stimuli. When they were alive, I spent a lot of holidays at my grandparents. There house was where my whole family gathered. It was heaps of fun but I also needed time-outs throughout the holidays where I could just breathe for a moment. Thank the Gods that they had a garage. While smaller crowds would sneak out to the garage to smoke, I would always try to sneak out for a few moments alone before anyone else followed. Trust me folks, it really helped me to not become completely overwhelmed during the holidays. Whether it's a garage, a barn, a yard, a basement... find somewhere to recharge your batteries throughout the event.

Say No

Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean that you are stripped of your personal boundaries. Anything that comes up that crosses your boundaries, say no and mean it. Don't want to go to the holiday office party? Say no. Don't want to go to your in-laws because they treat you like crap every other day of the year and will probably use the holiday to berate your celebratory choices? Say no. Don't want to be hugged by your drunk creepy uncle? Say no. All too often boundaries go by the wayside at the holidays because we choose to accommodate others to ensure their happiness over our own. Don't do that. In the end, it leaves you with a bad taste of yuletide regret in your mouth. Just because we celebrate each other during the holiday season doesn't mean we stop honoring ourselves.

To Give is to Receive

Denzel Washington quote on giving back