Opt-Out of Holiday Stress

Dec 19, 2022

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I'm Kelley โ€” licensed therapist, burnout expert, and host of the Black Girl Burnout podcast. I encourage black women to opt out of struggle and opt into our legacy of joy and accomplishment. Join me!

Meet Kelley


Kelley’s back with a few episodes before the season 2 premiere in January! Today’s episode is all about how to manage holiday stress. Whether you are planning on celebrating with family, or this time of year is filled with grief or you don’t celebrate the holidays at all. This episode has got you covered. Learn the four ways to opt out of holiday stress by prioritizing peace, managing expectations, and developing an escape plan this holiday season. Opt out of the stress of the holidays and opt into rest and connection.

As we gear up for season 2 coming in January please subscribe and rate/review the podcast.


Welcome to the Black Girl Burnout Podcast. Kelly here and I am back. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be talking to you all again. It has definitely been a minute, and I promise you that there are explanations coming as we move forward, but I wanted to make sure to let you all know that I am back.

Season two for this podcast kicks off and January 23rd. There are so many exciting things I wanna tell you about so many upcoming things for the next season. You all, I hope are just going to be blown away.

Prepare to be excited, engaged, but before we get to, I really wanted to deal with the pressing issue of the moment, which is that the holidays are upon us.

And so this week I’m gonna drop two bonus episodes, this one and another one on Friday that is going to help you cope with holiday stress. Today we are gonna talk about opting out of holiday stress and opting into rest and connection. And so as we talk about this, I am going to today go over a few tips that will help you this holiday season.

These tips are gonna be helpful whether you celebrate the holidays or don’t, whether you’re connecting with family or not, and whether you are just spending this next couple weeks sitting on your couch unplugged from everything. This episode is all about helping us gear up to close out this year in a meaningful way and manage what can be some of the most tumultuous time of the year?

So let’s talk about that briefly before I give you these tips. The holidays can be some of the most joyous, restful times, and they can also be some of the most painful.

And so for me it’s really important that we talk about both those things for many people the holidays provide a time, regardless of what holiday they celebrate or don’t, a time to connect with family. As there’s increased time off from work, there may be travel involved.

Everyone is slowed down as far as the professional space of things for the most part, and at the same time, there’s a lot more opportunity to connect. . Conversely, the holidays can be a time of pain and discomfort, pain because we may have lost family members, we may not be close with our family, and so seeing all of the holiday commercials or hearing our friends or partner talk about their family and what’s been going on in their life may be painful or may have a little sting.

The holidays can also be an uncomfortable time for people who don’t celebrate either the traditional holidays or don’t celebrate a holiday at all. Everyone is saying Merry Christmas to them and they’re like, I don’t celebrate Christmas. And maybe their stress level is up about having to constantly explain that they of a certain religious group that doesn’t celebrate the holidays, and as people gear up for holiday parties, it can make it really awkward to have to say no or to say, actually, I celebrate Kwanza, not Christmas, or I’m Jewish. All of those things can make the holidays an uncomfortable time of the year, and so the first thing I wanna do is honor you wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. If you have got all the things ready for the holidays and you are ready to go. I honor that experience for you, and I hope you have a good time with your family and with the celebration, if you don’t celebrate the holidays because you are of another religious denomination, or you just don’t care about the holidays at all.

I wanna honor you and honor the discomfort that comes with not being a part of the dominant culture’s religious experience and how hard it is to be different and how it may make you feel marginalized at this time of the year.

I wanna honor that and I wanna honor the bravery that it takes to stand out and to be a little different. If you are someone who finds the holidays to be a time of grief, as you reflect upon lost family members or connections or partnerships, I wanna honor that as well and honor that it might be one of the most painful times of the year and you get to deal with the grief.

The best way, you know how, and I wanna honor that. That’s okay. If that’s how you feel. You don’t owe anyone anything. You get to feel the way you feel, and you don’t have to put on a fake smile to make everybody happy if you are sad inside.

And if you are doing that, I wanna honor the energy that it must take to do that this season. And say that I see all of you no matter what your circumstances are. I see you, you are valued, and I, I want to be able to come to a place of helping you manage no matter where you are.

So with that in mind, I wanna provide three to four tips to help you. Get through this holiday season and to opt out of holiday stress and opt into really joy and reflection and rest. So the first tip I have for you is I want you to think about ways to find moments of peace.

I don’t care what your situation is. The holidays are just another day for you. You celebrate nothing. Or if you are having a giant holiday extravaganza at your home, or if you are grieving, find moments of peace, particularly for people who may be in contact with a bunch of people this year and maybe getting overwhelmed by all the people they’re having to engage with as the year closes. , but find these moments. It could be as simple as taking a walk, doing a three minute meditation. We talk a little bit about how mindfulness can be bite sized. I really believe in something called mindful moments. I’ll tell you more about that at another podcast.

Mindful moments is just small ways to bring your body to peace and regulation. So that can mean staring up at the stars. It can mean having a cup of tea and sipping it mindfully, like really just enjoying the smell of tea. take those moments if you are grieving, these moments are essential to helping you cope and feel resilient during this time if the holidays are just another day for you.

This tip is helpful no matter what day of the week it is, and it will help you to really get the most out of this time period where everything is slightly slowed. , even if you are not celebrating, you actually have the luxury of having a lot more time and a lot more peaceful moments, but be thoughtful about taking advantage of all of them.

The second tip I have for you all is to manage your expectations. This is just a theme I think, of life. It’s not just for the holidays, but in life in general. So much pain is caused by unrealistic expectations. I know for myself, there were a lot of times in my life and a lot of areas where I. Such sky-high delusional expectations about how things were gonna go, whether it was partnership or career, or just my life and me having goals that I set that a lot of my discomfort and frustration in life could have been reduced had I just learned the skill of managing my expectations.

So how does this apply to the holiday? Well, how about we start with this family gonna family. So if you’re someone who’s gonna spend the holidays or with your family, you’re gonna be traveling, you’re gonna have a lot of people in your home manage your expectations.

The holidays are not going to. A time where everything gets magically fixed because you’re under some tree or you’re sang some songs or you gave some gifts. Right? Manage your expectations about the fact that we are always gonna have that quirky cousin. We are going to have, uh, an inevitable fight about how to cook a certain type of food with our mother.

Family gonna a family. So be thoughtful before you get in the car or you open your door to your family or get on that plane. Think about what are my expectations for this holiday season? If I’m going to be with family and do a full on celebration, what is the smallest thing that can bring me joy?

Is my expectation that me and my mom are gonna get along a hundred percent. We’re gonna heal all past family traumas together at the dinner table, the whole family. We’re gonna do a round robin and talk about how we’re healing ourselves this next year. Or could, the simple thing that brings you joy be I get to hug my mom.

I get to look around the faces of my family and know that yeah, we’re not perfect, but this past couple years have been wild and just being able to sit with my family or sit with my friends is something that I was, I couldn’t maybe do a couple years ago. Can that be the smallest piece of joy that I get to give someone a gift and see their face as they receive it.

That I get to have a day where I get to spend time with the people that I choose to bring into my life. What is the smallest thing that can bring you joy? Conversely, manage your expectations if this is a time of grieving. Don’t force yourself to be positive or cheery or get into the “spirit of the season.”

If you’re in pain, you’re in pain, and that’s okay, but manage your expectations too about what you want to get accomplished. and what you wanna feel. You don’t have control necessarily about how you feel in life. We just have choices about how we’ll react to the moment. So manage your expectations that when I feel sad, I’m going to do X.

And think of something you can. , if you don’t celebrate a holiday at all, well manage your expectations that this is gonna be a time of rest because maybe you have some projects you wanna get done. Don’t over pile your plate and say, well now I’m gonna do all these things because I am basically off work for a bunch of time.

Manage your expectations about what you can get accomplished. Connected to managing your expectations and finding moments of peace is the third tip for you, which is to have an escape plan. This is all about boundaries.

Boundaries. Boundaries, boundaries. Have an escape plan and set boundaries to protect yourself from unnecessary stress. So an escape plan could be something like this. If you are going to be doing the whole holiday, get up and you’re visiting your family, or you’re at the company holiday party plan for an escape.

Think about how long am I realistically going to be able to tolerate being in my family home? For some of us, we could move back and live there forever. For others of us, we’re like, uh, 10 minutes in. It is time to go. So, being realistic in managing expectations.

What is your escape plan? What is your boundary plan to be like? When things get too hard, I am going to go into the other room, or I’m gonna cut my trip short. I’m gonna just go for that specific holiday and maybe the day after, and then I’m gonna drive home. And I know that I have some guilt and my family may want me to stay longer, but for my own health, I gotta escape.

I gotta have a plan that’ll allow me to step away, either in small moments or in larger by setting boundaries around your trip. corporate holiday parties. Set an exit time. I’m only gonna go for two hours. I’m gonna just do the circle. I’m gonna say hi to people, thank them. Get into the spirit of the season, and then I’m going to leave.

I am going to be careful about how much I drink because I don’t necessarily trust my coworkers. The point is, no matter what your circumstance is, have a plan about how you’re gonna deal with discomfort. How you’re going to deal with interactions with people that you don’t think are beneficial.

Plan, plan, and more planning. Conversely, if this is a time of grieving for you or you don’t participate in the holidays in any way, and it’s just a regular time for you, I want you to build a rest plan. I want you to create cozy and connection for yourself, even if you’re not celebrating the holidays or you, it’s a tough time for you in general.

Get yourself together a little Cozy Connection kit and fill that with things like movies or snacks. Get in your comfy PJs. I want everything to be soft and gentle. Set up some time to connect with friends if you’re struggling. If it’s just another day for you, I want you to take this opportunity to connect with your family or connect with friends. Do something that makes you feel cozy and connected.

Really, anyone can take this advice, but particularly for those of you who may have more time to, to actually create those cozy and connected moments. And last but not least, the final kind of bonus tip for you all is ultimately for those of you who are dealing with your family during this time of year, remember that you can always, always, always opt out.

This podcast is all about opting out of things that don’t serve us, things that don’t make us feel good. You could, in this instance, opt out of family struggles. Remember the holidays most likely are not going to be the time where all wrongs are righted, where you are going to have this moment of zen and these deep conversations and everyone’s going to be healed. You get to choose then now that you’ve managed your expectations, you have finding moments of peace. You have your escape plan. You get to choose, therefore to opt out of conflict. opt out of people pushing on your boundaries. Opt out of parenting your parent opt out of uncomfortable financial discussions.

Opt out of having to answer questions about your lifestyle, your relationship status if you’re having children, you get to opt out of those questions by simply saying, “Let’s talk about something else,” or, “I’m good.”

You don’t have to engage with the things that don’t serve you and the things that bring you disruption and discomfort. You get to opt out of family struggles, and you get to opt into having a celebratory moment with the people you love. You get to opt out of family struggles, and you get to opt into focusing on your healing.

As you deal with grief, you get to opt out of family struggles, and you get to opt into setting boundaries that is all at your disposal. So that’s it for today’s episode. I wanna remind you a new episode drops this Friday and this Friday. This episode’s gonna be all about basically my year end recap, the amazing things this podcast has done this year. The amazing people like you who’ve listened.

I wanna talk a little bit about that, and I wanna leave you with what I think are my top three episodes of the season for if you have time to go back and listen to and do some of those practices, that is going to be so and get you ready for season two when it drops.

Please take care of yourself and take care of each other.


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Are you a black woman who has been feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and confined to the struggle? If so, the Black Girl Burnout podcast is here for you. Journey along with host Kelley Bonner as she interviews guests and shares personal anecdotes about productive ways to opt-out of struggle and opt into happiness,ย  while navigating the unique challenges and joys of being a black woman in today’s world. From work and relationships to self-care and mental health, this podcast is a safe space to explore and find support along the journey towards your goals. Join our community and start feeling more connected and less burnt out.

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Special thanks and appreciation to the team for all that you do! ๐Ÿงก

Producer  – Wendye Walter

Creative Director – William Cornell

Associate Producer – Amanda St. Maur

Cover Art – Reignland Creatives