Hello, everyone, thank you so much for joining me for another episode of the More Than You See Podcast Season 3, hosted by me, actor, filmmaker and mental health advocate, Deborah Lee Smith. Every Monday, I come to you to share some resources, have a conversation, and genuinely just dive into all sorts of topics around mental health. I am not a licensed practitioner or therapist, I'm just a woman exploring my own mental health journey and sharing it with you, my listeners. My hope is that this podcast brings you some joy, some understanding, and some tools so that you can build your own mental health toolbox.
Hi, everyone. Welcome to episode two, season three of the More Than You See Podcast. I'm so glad that you are here. Last week, we talked about my divorce, last week was November 8. And that is my ex wedding anniversary. And I want to extend endless gratitude for so many people who opened up about their own divorces that they're either going through or have gone through. And I really applaud everyone for being so vulnerable. I have to say that it certainly makes me feel less alone when I feel - when I hear everyone else's stories. So thank you for just opening up and sharing your stories with me because I think that that's what this mental health journey is really mostly about is is connecting with others and figuring out how we could help each other by sharing in our tools, sharing in our grief, sharing in our happy times. I mean, that's what the human experience is all about. And I think people who are hyper aware of their own mental health journeys are really diving into the human experience in just a really wonderful way. So I applaud you and applaud anyone who's participating in their own mental health journey in some capacity.
As I explained last week, the first three episodes of this season are all about relationships and mental health. And so last week, of course was about was about my relationships, and my divorce. And today, we are going to talk about family and the holidays, because we've got Thanksgiving is coming up in two short weeks. And then we've got all of those other holidays that are coming after that. And then we've got the New Year. And I feel like right now, there is so much stress and pressure that we put on ourselves, and we put on others, and I'm 100% speaking from experience here. And I want to hopefully give everyone some comfort. And hopefully by the end of this episode, you and myself feel a little lighter and more optimistic going into the holidays. Because I think that it's a difficult thing to do.
The holidays are, you know, advertised, capitalized, focused from everything around us to kind of tell us that this is supposed to be the happiest time of year. And that is 100% not the case. There is a study that NAMI did a few years ago, which is the National Institute of Mental Illness. That said that of the people studied 42% said that their mental health got worse during the holidays. So let's just put that out there to start and acknowledge that if you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed and feeling like your mental health is taking a hit as we come into the holidays, you are 100% not alone. And I know that I'm feeling that. And I'm sure that many other people who listened to this podcast are feeling that so let's just, we're just gonna start there, by saying that if you are apprehensive if you are feeling stressed already, and we're not even into the holidays, let's just acknowledge that and sit with that for a second. And then I'm going to talk a little bit about why and what we can do in order to hopefully get through the next couple months in the best way possible.
Now really quick, before I jump into that, I just want to say that I'm really trying to make this podcast a multifaceted experience. So obviously these podcasts release on Monday, but I'm also trying to be really hip and getting more into TikTok and releasing little pieces that are like more insights, more ideas, more thoughts around the podcast episode over on my TikTok. So feel like I never wanted to ever say this, but if you have any desire to hear more about what I'm discussing on this episode, please feel free to follow More Than You See on Instagram, and myself, and then myself on TikTok, and that's all about mental health right there. And all of those links are in the show notes. And of course, I have to say, again, please, rate, review, subscribe, share all the things, it really does help spread the word of mouth and just continue to grow this community, which just makes me the happiest and is the best holiday gift ever. So there we go. And without further ado, let's let's dive into the holidays, shall we?
First of all, I want to say that we need to give ourselves a break, thinking about the expectations of what holidays are going to be and instead just allow them to be what they are, I know that there's a lot of I feel like extra pressure this year coming into the holidays, because last year, so many people did not spend the time with the, with their family. And because of COVID and some people still are not able to travel. So that is one, you know element that everyone is dealing with. But then we also have this element of feeling like this needs to be bigger and better and brighter and happier and whatever, then last year, and I want to 100% call BS on that, and say that our expectations of anything are never, it's never, that's never something that is going to bring us more joy.
I, of course am a huge dreamer and have huge goals for my life. And that is certainly one huge aspect of myself. But it's something that I'm working really, really hard on is trying to just take people and relationships and feelings and situations as they are and not try and put other expectations on that situation. And these expectations could be built by, again, society, by our past, you know, we could be relating what our current situation is based on a past relationship, or based on a past situation that we've had. I think that, you know, all of this, as I dive into this episode, is what we think about when it comes to our family relationships, and our relationship to the holidays, our personal relationship to the holidays, all of that is so related to how we relate just in the world, you know, like I think that oftentimes we can hold on to this idea of what a holiday should be because of a past holiday. And we do that also just with people, we think about what this person should be to us, or we have this imaginary idea of maybe who they were, who we want them to be. And instead of just taking people as they are. And I think that that is just our own personal journey that we need to acknowledge, I think that one thing that we can kind of take away from a past and bring into our future is the essence of the situation.
So for example, I think that sometimes we you know, again, try to recreate something, we recreate a relationship, we recreate an exact scenario. I've certainly done this before, where it's like I had such an amazing like situation relationship experience with these people listening to this music, eating this food, doing these things, whatever we try to recreate a past, which is the definition of something that's not going to work because everyone of course is in different places, situations are different, you're different. And so I think that the thing that we can take away is the essence. So how did that past family holiday experience make you feel? And maybe you can potentially try to recreate that feeling, but not necessarily recreate that exact situation. I hope that makes sense. And I think that like that is certainly something that we can try and focus on.
I know that there's elements of the holidays that I really love. I'm a huge Pyro so I love being in front of the fire, being in front of the fireplace, feeling cozy. So like those are essences of a holiday that I can try to recreate in whatever capacity, I am celebrating. And I think those, you know, little specific elements of our holiday are something that we can try and bring into our current holiday situation. I think that it's also really important when it comes to expectations of the people around us of our situations of just our holiday experience, that it's really important to also not put these expectations on our current relationships, scenarios, etc.
What do I mean by that? I mean that, you know, oftentimes, and we do this in relationships as well, we can put the negative expectations or the arguments that you've had in the past the negative feelings that you've had on your current situation as well. So it goes both ways. So we can, you know, only focus on the positives and try to recreate it. But then we can also focus on the negatives and put it on a new relationship, new situation, new holiday experience. Again, I think it's most easy to recognize this and and relate to this when it comes to personal relationships, because we can have had a argument with a past partner around a specific thing, and then think that our current partner is going to replicate that argument. And it's just so important to remember that everyone is completely unique. Everyone has their own experiences in the way that they show up in the world. And it's just so important to see people as they are - see people as the flawed but beautiful humans that they are and try not to put the expectations positive or negative on that person. And again, this this is also the exact same when it comes to family.
Of course, family provides this extra element of stress, because oftentimes, we are not taught how to put boundaries up with family members. And I am here to tell you right now, that you out are perfectly allowed to set boundaries with your family members the way you are with anyone else in your life. And I know that it's more difficult, but the way that you relate to someone and the way that someone makes you feel, that is really all that matters. If someone does not make you feel good if someone makes you feel inferior, or unloved, that is not necessarily a relationship that you want in your life. And you deserve better than that. And I would encourage you, as you know, we're all going into the holidays, to think about people in your life, family members, friends, etc, that maybe make you feel inferior. And just mark those people and see if there's some capacity, some way that you can set some new boundaries around those relationships. Because again, these emotions that we already have around our relationships with people get hyper focused and hyper hyper exacerbated during the holidays. So just like let's go in knowing that emotions are high, and that everyone is on eggshells in some capacity, and on a bit of a live wire. And I think that it is important to have empathy and to understand other people's perspectives and try and see things from their perspective. But it doesn't mean that you need to allow it to affect you to change your personal mind on things, like you are allowed to empathize with someone and also disagree with them. And I think that that's something that we all just need to remember going into the holiday.
I would also encourage everyone to have their chosen family, especially in communities, with people who have felt discriminated against marginalized, etc. There's a lot of talk around this idea of chosen family, which is the family, friends, whoever that supports you and love you the way that you want to be loved. And I think that there is something so incredibly beautiful around this idea of chosen family and so if you decide that you want to spend your holidays with that chosen family instead of your biological family. This is perfectly okay. I know that other people have expections of us and that you personally may have a way more hyper aware idea around how the holidays make you feel. And it may be difficult to explain your point of view to your family, but people don't necessarily need to understand you in order to respect your decision. And in order to respect your boundaries. And I think that this is something that the world would be a lot better place, if we had more empathy for people and respected people's boundaries, even if we didn't necessarily agree with or like them.
Now, we just talked about a lot of issues, things that are going to potentially cause us stress and a lot of the potentially negative pitfalls that we might fall into during the holidays. But let's talk about some things that we can do in order to get through the next few months without wanting to strangle all of our friends and family.
Again, boundaries. Boundaries are so important and it doesn't necessarily have to be you know, not showing up to something or not talking to someone. But if that is something that serves you, that's also perfectly okay. But you can also set boundaries around just time that you need by yourself. Especially with, you know, kids now being home, like during the holidays, if you're a parent, you might need to set some boundaries, so that you can have some personal space, some personal time, that is just your own.
And I know that, you know, I grew up, my parents got divorced when I was five. And I know that the holidays were always difficult for them in some capacity, of course, because you know, it was always like going between parents are not necessarily celebrating all together, all of those kinds of things. But I have to say, just in general, I think and they could, my parents could very much disagree with me, they listen to this podcast, Mom, Dad, let me know what you actually think. But I have to say that I think one of the benefits of divorce and divorced parents is that it allows the parents to have some alone time, that is just their own. So whenever I was over at my dad's house, obviously, my mom would have time for herself in order to focus on her own things. And I have to say, the amount of like, love and support and attention that I got, whenever I was with my mom, I always felt so loved and supported by each of my parents. And I think that one of the reasons for that was that they were able to have their time by themselves, because parenting is fucking hard. And I think that, you know, divorce, you know, speaking about my episode last week, divorce can be or is very, very difficult. But there is some benefits in some in some ways. And I think that when it comes to kids, that was, I do think that that was something that served them. And, you know, so no matter what your family relationship looks like, if you have kids, make sure that you're taking time for yourself because family time and and the holidays does not mean that you need to spend every waking second together.
And beyond that, I think that it's just really important to try and maintain our healthy habits. Over the next couple months, I know that we have that it's harder to exercise, the days are getting shorter, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere, we eat a lot heavier and more, you know, fatty or sugary foods. Like there's a lot of things that over the next couple of months kind of like set us up to fail. And I want to recognize those things and call them out and say that we don't necessarily have to spiral into unhealthy habits during the holidays, and especially when we are surrounded by family, friends, people that are causing extra stress into our lives, we can then make those healthy habits even worse. So if there's something that you can do in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, that you know, of course is proven to help your mental health and I strongly encourage you to just like choose five things throughout your day that make you happy that you know make you happy right now or like give you some sense of joy and try and maintain them through the holidays. Whether that's going for a walk, whether that's making sure you drink enough water, whether that's meditation, whether that's, you know, eating fruits and vegetables, whatever it is. Try and pick up on those habits and really focus on on maintaining those throughout the holidays.
I want to leave everyone today with a book that is incredible talking about family, relationships, and trauma in general. And I think that, especially as we go into the holidays, and I think that a lot of people have have really done a lot of self reflection over the past couple years and really learned a lot about themselves and and grown and evolved as people as individuals, that now when we are subjecting ourselves to our family, they may not necessarily see the new person that you are or may not understand this growth that you've gone through. And I think that it's important to recognize their trauma. And it doesn't again, this comes back to like just being empathetic. This book that I strongly recommend is called "It didn't start with you: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle". It's written by Mark Wolyn, and it's a book that I've read before a few years ago, it's really incredible to look at this idea of generational trauma of the different things that we you know, pick up. And again, it will allow you to kind of recognize both your own relationship to your family, but also your own relationship to yourself, like how you've been shaped by your family. And I don't know if this is something that you've potentially looked into before. But I mean, there's no time like the present. Maybe this holiday season is a time when you want to use this time to reflect on the relationships that you have with those family members. And maybe this book will help.
I just want to say in summation that the holidays are effing hard for so many people, and if you are feeling that, my goodness, I am with you. I think that I have my own familial and past reasons for the next couple months being so difficult. And I'm honestly like, just anticipating some really difficult feelings. But I think that it's important to, for me to try and put some boundaries, rules, tempered expectations in place, so that I'm not necessarily surprised by my emotions. Although of course, I'm sure that there will be some surprises. I just want to remind you that whatever comes up over the next couple of months when it comes to your family and mental health and relationships, it's perfectly okay. And we're feeling it too. I'm sure that I am feeling it right along with you. Please remember that you and everyone around you is more than you see. Thank you so much for listening. Be kind to yourself, and I will see you next week.