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Taking of Yourself During Chinese New Year

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

Written by Ryan Khoo & Ng Ray

Chinese New Year is a celebration filled with festivities and social gatherings. Everybody seizes the occasion to meet up with their best friends, reconnect with relatives, and even acquaint themselves with distant family members and new people. With all the celebrations, it is not uncommon to hear raucous laughter emanating from households as throngs of people gather to eat New Year goodies, reconnect, and catch up with one another. Amidst all the fun that we will be having, here are some tips for us to be more aware of our overall wellness in this season!

Setting boundaries - personal mental health

During our visitations, it is common for us to interact and catch up with various questions. Sometimes, these questions can be light-hearted, and in good fun such as asking about someone’s hobby. However, we might run into questions which we might not feel too comfortable answering. Here are some tips to approach such questions!

The first thing to remember is that it is okay to politely decline answering questions that you do not want to answer, you are setting and defining the boundaries of your comfort. Most of the questions were not intentionally trying to make you uncomfortable, so hold your emotional outbursts, and calmly attempt to set your boundaries to help others be aware about what is okay to you.

For example, if a relative asks, ‘Why do you not have a boyfriend/girlfriend?’ and you do not wish to dive too deep into details of your personal love life, you can try answering with a vague truth statement such as ‘I’ve been trying to focus on other priorities’ or even ‘I’m still figuring things out.’. A vague statement might be sufficient to hint that you are not comfortable sharing too much information in a public setting. If hard-pressed with constant follow-up questions and comments, one might even consider responding with ‘Haha! Maybe we can talk about this next time, how have your holidays been?’ or even a firmer response of ‘Thank you for your concern, but I would prefer to keep some things private.’. If still hard-pressed after these responses, simply excuse yourself from the conversation by stating that you would like to get a drink and walking away.

Most of the time, vague statements followed up by slightly more explicit displays of discomfort would be more than enough to signal to the opposing party that you are uncomfortable with sharing said information. However, should your boundaries be pushed, it is okay to refuse to cave into pressure and answer questions that you do not feel comfortable answering?

Another common instance of relatives not respecting your boundaries is when they barge in and intrude upon your privacy when visiting your home. Without even considering knocking on the door, some relatives have the habit of entering our rooms unwelcomed, with plates of food in their hands while they ransack through your personal knick-knacks and wardrobes. They then begin talking away, inviting more uninvited relatives into your now not-so personal space. How do we deal with it? Apart from taking a step back and being direct with our expectations, we could also try putting ourselves in the shoes of our relatives. Them invading our personal space is probably not an intentional act of disrespect but them trying to reach out to you. Once again, calm, assertive, and direct communication is pivotal to assert proper boundaries. If you would rather not confront your relatives directly, you could alternatively paste a sign or message outside your bedroom to inform them that you would appreciate them respecting your privacy and personal space. You can also explain to them that you would love to engage in conversation with them, just not in your safe space.

Burnout from meeting people - energy setting

Constant meet-ups can be tiring and exhausting, especially if they happen in high frequency over a short period of time. It is easy to get caught up in the momentum of events such as playing mahjong overnight or daily house visits (whilst complying with covid restrictions). The last thing that we would want after celebrating the festive season is to experience social exhaustion whilst transitioning back to our normal lives.

What can we do then? We have to first be aware of our own social battery capacity, and perhaps plan to space out our meetups to avoid a burnout! Alternatively, you can allocate time for your own self-care to recuperate. Social burnouts can negatively impact a myriad of aspects of our lives, causing us difficulties not only in our social relationships but also in our work and school.

Although you might feel bad for not making the party, your family and friends would understand your absence should you explain the situation you are currently in politely.

Take note of physical health

Pineapple tarts, love letters, packet drinks, and many other Chinese New Year goodies are consumed during this festive occasion. Whilst it is a good time to enjoy yourself and consume these tasty snacks, it is important to take note of our physical health in the meantime. Health indicators like blood pressure, cholesterol level, sleep cycle, and even our own gauge of how physically exhausted we are. Maintaining our health during this festive period would ease into our transition between the festive season to our regular routine!

Taking care of yourself this season

Squeezing so many visitations into such a short amount of time can be very draining for some, especially for those who would prefer alone time over constant meet-ups and conversations. Sometimes, we even place the need to meet others over our own body’s cry for rest and respite from the overwhelming amount of interactions. As much as we would love to celebrate and catch up with our loved ones in this festive season, it is important to take care of our own social batteries, mental health, and physical health to protect our overall wellness.

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