Coping with the Holidays: Having a Plan
The holiday season can be a time of increased stress. It is often said to be the “happiest time of year” when in fact, for many of us, it can be one of the most challenging times of year. Know, you are not alone if this is the case for you.
Whether it is a work party, family gatherings, finances, the loss of a loved one, loneliness or pressures around the upcoming new year, it can be helpful to come up with a plan of ways you can cope to supporting yourself in managing your mood, anxiety, substance use and potential conflicts ahead of time.
Coping ahead of time means to anticipate problems that are likely to occur and problem solve in advance so you are not taken off guard or surprised when they occur. You have a plan in place to support you in getting through those hard times!
Some questions that could be helpful to ask yourself are…
What are things I can do on a regular basis to help manage stress throughout the holidays?
- Regular exercise, healthy eating, spending time with close friends, meditation, creative activities, journaling, taking breaks for yourself, positive self-talk, etc.
Who can I call if I am having a hard day?
- Identifying people are helpful in different situations and let them know that I might reach out
How will I manage potential relationship conflicts?
- Try role playing ahead of time with a trusted friend
- Use DBT skills such as DEAR MAN
o Describe the situation. Stick to the facts.
o Express how you feel about it using “I” statements.
o Ask for what you want.
o Reinforce the other person. Explain positive effects of getting what you want.
o Being Mindful. A clear and calm mindful approach is more likely to be accepted.
o Appear confident. Use a calm tone of voice. Look people in the eye. Speak clearly.
o Be willing to Negotiate. Discuss options and be willing and open to other suggestions.
Remember you are not alone in experiencing the holidays as a stressful time. By working to put plans in place, you can lessen the weight of some of the challenges you face as you approach the new year.