The holiday season is upon us. While the holidays can be a time of joy and merriment spent with family and friends, it can also be a time when many feel distressed.
The holidays can bring up various issues, such as: falling back into old family patterns; dealing with a loss such as death, separation, divorce, illness, a job, or a recent move; unmindful or mindless eating; or feeling overwhelmed by large crowds or gatherings.
Here are five tips to help survive the holidays:
1. Reduce vulnerabilities. Our emotions can be greatly influenced by our level of hunger and tiredness. While many “save up” for a holiday meal, don’t do it. Plan and eat balanced meals throughout the day, don’t set yourself up for unmindful or mindless eating, it can send you in an emotional tailspin. Also, getting adequate sleep can give us more energy to take on the holidays. Here are some helpful sleep hygiene tips.
2. Prepare. Use problem-solving skills to think about any possible distressing situations before hand and have tools in place to navigate the situation as smoothly as possible. Talk with a counselor or other trusted support person to identify specific struggles and come up with a plan on how to handle such struggles if and when they occur. These plans should be individualized, but examples include: Creating a to-do list to help prioritize demands; planning balanced meals throughout the day; taking short walk with a friend if needing a break from a large gathering.
3. Be mindful. Don’t get caught up in the nostalgia of the holidays, this will only add to your suffering. Instead, stick with the present moment. If you find yourself thinking of what used to be or what should be, notice those thoughts and bring yourself back to the present moment. Use mindfulness exercises to help with this.
4. Take care of yourself. After each holiday event, take the time to care for and soothe yourself. Self-soothing looks different for everyone so identify what you find calming and relaxing. It could be a lavender bubble bath, lighting a candle and reading a good book, or listening to your favorite music.
5. “This too shall pass.” The holidays are a season and like all seasons, they pass. While the holidays can be demanding emotionally and physically, you can survive them!