I have been thinking of you. How has your holiday season been so far? Are you looking forward to the rest of the holidays or are you wishing that you could fast forward to January and skip the whole thing? For a lot of us, this time of year creates a slew of mixed emotions. We feel hopeful and excited for the fun and magic we are told to expect, yet we know that so many things can get in the way of this, leaving us disappointed and depressed. Family drama, loneliness, grief, financial stress or not enough time can interfere with a joyous holiday season.
In addition to these stressors, the media creates expectations of how the holidays should be. They depict happy families sitting around beautifully decorated dining room tables with an abundance of food and a Christmas tree in the background brimming with presents underneath. Everyone is smiling and laughing and they are all getting along. Social media doesn’t help either. People only post happy times leading us to compare our lives to theirs.
Whether the stress of the holiday season leaves you feeling frazzled, isolating in your room or at risk for a relapse, there are things you can do to cope and help you through it.
Consider these tips to help you enjoy this time of year.
- Let go of the high expectations of the season. You don’t have to spend more than your budget allows and you don’t have to do more than you have time for. Make a budget and stick to it. Make a schedule and be willing to say no to some invitations if you will feel more exhausted than energized by going to all of the holiday parties. Basically, don’t try to do it all.
- Identify what is important to you during the holiday season and include that in your schedule. Do you have loved ones who aren’t toxic and whom you’d love to see? Reach out and make plans. Do you love making homemade holiday gifts but feel like you don’t have enough time? Schedule time for crafts and say no to other activities that don’t provide as much meaning to you.
- Continue to do the things that keep you healthy during the year: getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising. Remember that self-care can go a long way. Don’t forget your other coping skills, too: reaching out to supports and mindfulness or meditation.
- Schedule time for yourself to relax and recharge. It will help you cope with any uncomfortable situations that you might find yourself in with family or friends.
- If you are in recovery or trying to decrease or limit your alcohol or drug use, make plans to maintain your sobriety. Ask for help from people who support your recovery. Take a support person with you to a party or make plans to call your sponsor before and after a party where there will be triggers. Plan fun, seasonal activities that don’t involve drinking. For more coping strategies, click here to read an article I was featured in on tips for how to stay clean and sober during the holiday season.
I hope that you have a delightful holiday season. I am grateful to have the opportunity to share with you. Let us know how you’re doing. Click here to learn more about how we can support you with anxiety and stress management.