Coping with the Holidays – Gina

Coping with the Holidayscoping-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.


For More Information

Stress and the Holidays

Sad Christmas

Sad Christmas

sad christmasThis will be a sad Christmas or some of those reading this post. You should not feel alone. I think that all of us can recall past Christmases there were disappointing or sad. We pass over these memories quickly sometimes. It’s not okay to be sad at Christmas time. Exactly how that should work, how it is that we should not experience the same feeling I on December 25 that were having on December 24 is a little bit unclear. It’s like the injunction that many of us have heard to “snap out of it.”

But there’s no instruction manual for snapping out of it. I suppose just something that you’re supposed to be able to do, although none of us really manage it well.

It might be good “if we” recognize that there are times that are disappointing or sad for many reasons that we don’t have to be happy or married just because it’s Christmas.

One of our regular readers talked about her low expectations for Christmas.

Somehow that didn’t seem right, is it okay to have low expectations for Christmas, shouldn’t we strive for something wonderful?

But that got me thinking about how there were times and Christmases when nothing seemed to make a difference. And wouldn’t it be nice to not have to add the expectation that Christmas will be wonderful on to the already troubling recognition that this Christmas will not be all that wonderful.

So for all of you who are feeling sad this Christmas I hope that you don’t get fooled into thinking that all of us are happy and that you’re the only one who is not. You will have lots of company. And I will be thinking of you.

Stress and the Holidays

holidaysStress and the Holidays–

A successful businesswoman, who is herself a mother, is returning to her family’s home to have Christmas with her grandparents and her brother and wonders how she might improve the quality of that holiday experience.

Her mother is someone who obsesses about all of the details involved in the holidays, she takes hours wrapping presents, and trying to make things perfect for all of the people who will be visiting.

Any hints that someone is unhappy, or any signs of anger or irritation, are like fingernails on a chalk board to her.  She almost literally drives herself crazy with activity and efforts to make everyone comfortable.

You may not be surprised to hear that the result of all of this is that everyone is actually very uncomfortable, but says nothing about it.

No one dares to express any dissatisfaction and yet everyone is aware that her  grandma is right on the edge of hysteria.

I love the title of a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn: Full Catastrophe Living. In the video clip below, Jon explains the origin of this title.

Mindfulness, a difficult state to enter as we become more anxious, is founded on the acceptance of the human condition, in all its imperfections and messiness.

Take a moment now to think about how you may have a holiday season in which you are more present in the moment.