Author: Veronica Lichtenstein, LMHC
Dec 20, 2022
Do not be afraid to say no or ask for help. Set boundaries and watch your self-talk. Here are 7 ways to keep your well-being in check during the holidays.
Have a designated regular time to do your holiday shopping/socializing. That way it is expected and you can prepare for it. If it becomes a routine, you will get used to it. Example: Friday afternoons will be devoted to holiday shopping and you will only accept holiday gathering invitations on Saturdays. If an invitation is obligatory and it falls on a different day, limit yourself to time spent at the venue. Make an agreement ahead of time with your partner about when you will leave the gathering and stick to it.
Establish boundaries and do not be afraid to advocate for yourself. If something is a 10 in discomfort, do not compromise. Conversely, if something does not have such a high discomfort level, push yourself a little. Feeling uncomfortable is the only way you grow. Know your limits with activities and do not be afraid to say no or ask for help. Some gatherings may be unavoidable so maybe setting up secret passwords etc in advance with your partner to indicate that you need to exit immediately will be helpful. Understanding your triggers is important in advocating for yourself and utilizing coping tools. This includes family members, places, topics of discussion. Preparing for potential fearful interactions and having some “go to statements,” to navigate through difficult settings may alleviate some fear.
You can measure your stress levels with a number. Understanding your coping tools is important, but knowing when to use them is even more important. For example, a stress level of an 8,9, or a 10 will be managed differently than a stress level of a 4,5,or a 6. I tell my clients to really be mindful of a “7,” as that can easily turn into an 8 or higher. Everyone’s coping tools are different. I look at my client’s learning style, their habits, their hobbies, and how they have moved through life at different ages. This history is a good building block for your coping tool box.
Understand your best learning time of day. For example, if you are a morning person, this is when you should look at laborious tasks, like food shopping for the holiday meal, because you will be the most open and have the highest tolerance.
Self-care is important to recharging. Make sure you do activities that feel good to you as regularly as you commit to your social obligations and holiday prep craze. Also, if you are traveling and visiting family or friends, it’s essential to have private personal space to decompress and recharge. Self-care is always a priority, but should be emphasized when sharing space for long periods of time with family.
Perspective and self-talk is powerful. If you think your holiday schedule and obligations are overwhelming, you will manifest that. As mentioned earlier, having a consistent time to work on Holiday projects/tasks are subliminal messages that you are treating your stress with care and respect. This will help with maintaining a healthy perspective on a stressful subject. Telling yourself “you’ve got this” consistently sets the tone for dealing with anything difficult. Remind yourself that you don’t have control over annoying relatives, but you have control over how you deal with it.
If in crisis, do not be afraid to ask for help. There are several resources available, many are 24/7. 211 (Suicide & mental health crisis care with emphasis on local community resources and care coordination), 988 (Suicide and mental health crisis care, new number for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), 911 (Dispatching emergency medical services, fire and police), NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).