by Stephany Gonzalez
Although the holidays are usually a time when you gather with friends and family. It’s important to understand that the holidays can also be a time when you find yourself feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed. When these feelings arise know that there are some coping strategies you can try, to prevent dreading the holidays. This holiday survival guide is the first step will be to learn to recognize your holiday triggers such as financial pressures or personal demands, this will help you combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and these five coping strategies I hope you’ll find some peace and joy during the holidays.
Picture what you want
Depending on the holiday you participate in it can be extremely helpful to set a plan and discuss it with your partner or family. If you can focus on what you can control it can help you combat some of the anxiety. The holidays usually involve spending time with family or in-laws you may not get a lot with. Therefore, having a plan for how long you plan to spend with certain family members can help you mentally prepare. As well as considering what things you feel comfortable discussing or doing with certain people. In your plan consider involving a partner or family member and having a person on board as your support system can be advantageous to you when these strong feelings arise.
Learn to say no
If you are the type of individual that likes to please others, you may start to feel stress when invited to partake in activities that you do not necessarily want to. Such as drinking, going to holiday parties, participating in gift exchanges, etc. However, saying yes will leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Try to take a minute before responding, try saying, let me think about it and I’ll get back to you, or I appreciate the offer, but I can’t, I appreciate the invitation, but I am completely booked. Your friend and family will understand.
Don’t abandon healthy habits
Although the holidays can be a little hectic try to stay consistent with your daily habits. Such as having a well-balanced meal and planning to have healthy snacks before holiday meals. With the holidays around the corner, there’s usually a lot of sweets and alcohol involved. Therefore, trying to avoid overindulging because it only adds to stress and then feeling guilty. In addition to having a well-balanced diet, it is also helpful to get plenty of sleep. Remember to stay consistent with your regular physical activity. Research shows that exercising helps decrease stress and depression. Lastly, avoid excessive use of tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.
Take a breather
Since the holidays involve friends and family, it can get busy very fast. Make time for yourself. Do something you enjoy doing alone. Maybe it’s going to a Yoga or cycling class, reading a book, or going for a walk. Whatever it is take a breather and take care of yourself. During the holidays you may be doing a lot to please others, whether it’s family, friends, or maybe even your boss. Like the famous Brené Brown once said “Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love.” If a loved one called, you for support try telling yourself what you would tell them. Be gentle and caring with yourself.
If you or a loved one is struggling during the holidays. Remember you are not alone and seek out therapy. These techniques in the holiday survival guide are not a substitute for therapy therefore if you do not find success in these coping strategies do not be discouraged. Your local therapist can support you in finding different coping techniques to fit your needs.