Thriving (Not Just Surviving) During the Holidays, by Erin Adams, LPC
For many of us, the holidays are a time of excitement, joy, and activity. Often there’s an increase in social events with co-workers, friends, and family. Some just can’t wait to decorate, bake and shop.
And then there are some who find the holidays especially taxing. Have you’ve lost someone this year and it just doesn’t feel right to celebrate? Or, has there been a divorce, and you’re learning how to develop new traditions and it is just not the same? Maybe you realize there’s a bit of family dysfunction and you just dread that Thanksgiving turkey with the side of tension.
It is possible to put it into place beforehand.
Here are ten tips to not just survive but thrive this year’s holiday season:
- Anticipate emotions. Being around family at the holidays can elicit powerful emotions – expecting them can help you manage them.
- Be social! Isolating yourself often intensifies loneliness or depression so interact with others on purpose. Attend the work functions, continue going to your small group, meet friends for coffee, go to church. Surround yourself with people who support and uplift you.
- Have realistic expectations. Real-life doesn’t look like those holiday Hallmark movies so accurately anticipating possible behaviors, feelings or outcomes can help you prepare to handle them well.
- Boundaries are your friend! Know your limits and share those, gently but firmly, with friends and loved ones. It is okay to say “no” when your schedule is full. You have the power to choose where you focus your efforts.
- Take care of yourself! Exercise, consistent sleep routines, healthy eating habits will help reduce stress and fight depression. Anything new or additional in your schedules must be adjusted to so limiting change during the holidays may be helpful.
- Let the past stay in the past and focus on today. This year doesn’t have to look like previous holiday seasons. You don’t have to be pulled into old family dynamics or patterns of behaving. They may behave “like always” but you do not have to.
- Consider building new traditions. Sometimes old family activities are painful – especially if there’s been a loss or divorce. It is okay to try new things.
- Perspective is half the battle. Look for the positives. We see what we are looking for and when we train ourselves to see our blessings, they are there. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
- Lower the bar. Don’t put too much pressure or expectation on yourself of the holiday season.
- Ask for help when you need it. Consider attending a DivorceCare or GriefShare group if you have experienced a loss this year. Talk to your close friend, pastor or counselor if the holidays seem overwhelming.
Erin Adams, LPC