Though winter is a magical season, the holidays can also make it one of the most stressful times of the year, especially for a witch. In addition to dealing with some of the more common holiday stressors, witches must figure out how to find time for their craft while facing family members who are likely confused by their practice at best, and overtly bigoted or belittling about it at worst.
Witches may not celebrate popular holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, choosing instead to observe traditionally Pagan holidays such as Yule (Winter Solstice). Being unable to properly observe holy days that are important to you, on top of the holiday madness, can be too much for even the most well-balanced, patient individual to handle. This year, take some time to figure out a holiday survival plan; not only will it help soothe your anxieties, you will be better able to enjoy yourself and this enchanting time of year.
Do your best to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the holiday season. Start by asking your family members about their vision for this year’s family gathering. Will you have your own room where you would be able to practice your craft during the course of the visit, or will you be sleeping on the couch or sharing a room? Who else will be in attendance? Try to determine whether you will have to hide the fact that you’re a witch around these family members, and how that may affect your mental health and spiritual practice.
In particular, prepare yourself for the inevitable: holiday parties. Even the most introverted and shy of witches can somehow find themselves at an event or two they don’t particularly wish to attend. Accept that you may end up at one of these parties. If large events are difficult for you, remind yourself that it will be over soon. Remember that you can still attend and not only make it through the event, but have a great time. Enjoy the time to the best of your abilities, and if you don’t have your own space to retreat to afterward, check in with your family members to let them know that you need some time to yourself.
An important component to include in your de-stress plan is self-care. Though it may take different forms for each individual, mental health experts recommend doing the following to make your coping strategy as effective as possible during the holidays:
• Maintain your physical health. Eat healthfully, exercise regularly, and prioritize getting a full night’s sleep. You will likely feel better overall if you do so.
• Practice breathing exercises or meditation to keep yourself calm, especially if you are prone to panic or anxiety attacks. A brief attack can make an otherwise pleasant day memorable for the wrong reasons.
• Avoid your stressors whenever possible. While stress is a necessary and inevitable part of life, chronic stress can lead to a host of severe health problems.
Self-care may not be foolproof or even the only way to deal with stress during the holidays, but it is certainly more effective than going into a situation unprepared. Think of ways you can prioritize self-care while around others or without your usual comforts.
In addition, for many witches, practicing their craft is a very necessary form of self-care. If practicing makes you feel calmer and helps you de-stress, then you should absolutely continue to do so during the holidays, regardless of what others think.
Set clear boundaries with your relatives about your needs as a witch at this time of year. For example, if your parents ask that you attend a holiday party with them on the night of the winter solstice, don’t be afraid to say that you have other spiritual obligations to attend to or explain that this is a holy day for you. Be kind and polite, but firm. They don’t have to understand or like these boundaries —but they do have to respect them.
If setting boundaries is hard for you, remember that you aren’t trying to upset or hurt anyone. You are simply taking care of your own needs as a person and as a witch. The important people in your life will understand that you have these needs and won’t have any trouble respecting you. They care about you and will want you to be able to enjoy yourself, regardless of which winter holidays you celebrate. If you feel up to it, you can even consider extending an invitation to your loved ones to join you in your witchy festivities.
Ultimately, you need to do what makes you feel the most comfortable this holiday season. If you are unable to embrace the majesty of winter on your own terms, it can take all the fun out of the season and leave you upset and anxiety-ridden. Take your life into your own hands and celebrate the holidays the way you want to.
Top photo: detail of a painted Wheel of the Year from the Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle / Wikimedia Commons
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Madison Ann Baker is a writer, Netflix-binger, and pop culture enthusiast who lives in Idaho. Literature and linguistics are her two passions, both of which she studied in college. She enjoys writing about animals and health and wellness, but dabbles in a little bit of everything. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her Borador, Dash, and re-reading Harry Potter. Follow her on Twitter @mabakerwrites and at https://mabakerwrites.contently.com.