For people who are part of the LGBTQIA community, the holidays can be a very challenging time. Whether you’re out to them or not, feeling like a solid part of the family, and accepting yourself as “enough” can be challenging tasks.

If you’ve just come out, I recommend that you don’t avoid the holiday gathering. Of course protect yourself from a hostile home environment, if that’s the case. However, if there’s a slight feeling of discomfort in the room, yet it’s not hostile, then make an effort to show up. Many times, people avoid these gatherings because of the fear of being judged, and the fear of what that will feel like.

For situations where judgment is likely, I often recommend something called “centering”. In centering, you mentally prepare yourself for a situation right before you enter it. You walk through the scenario of the situation, and what is likely to happen. For example, “I’m sure they’ll be nice to me, but I also expect that things will be awkward.” Then you imagine this happening, and you check your breathing and heart rate. You then push yourself to take longer, deeper breaths, and ask yourself, “is this something that I can manage?” If so, how do you know that? What within you tells you you’ll be a little anxious, sad, and fearful, but that you’ll also be OK? Stay with the part that tells you that you’ll be for a minute, and know that you can recenter to this point at any given time.

If you’re not out, many times feeling incongruent can really make people feel uncomfortable. In these times, make sure that you have a support section whom you can reach out to. These are people who will not judge you for your sexual orientation or gender identification, but who will also not judge you for not yet coming out either. You really want someone who will validate how hard of a time this is, because it really is just that.

Holidays can be challenging for everyone, but especially for those who are part of the LGBTQIA community. Whether you’re out or not, this time of year poses challenges that are specific to this community. Remember that to make it through, you’ll need a toolbox of support and centering. With those things in your arsenal, you’ll not only make it through, but you’re more likely to gain some supportive allies as well.

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