The Holidays can be stressful. Between shopping for gifts, traveling to multiple family’s houses, and the sometimes-uncomfortable family discussions that get brought up around the dinner table, it’s not surprising that therapists find this time of year to be extremely busy and start seeing patients more frequently. To help navigate any sort of Holiday Headaches you may encounter this season, I’ve asked one of my best friends, Erin Simone a Licensed Professional Counselor, to put together some tips for how to manage stress and stressors that come from this time of year.
One- Self-compassion: Don’t overdo it. Don’t try to please everyone. It’s probably impossible.
Practice saying, “I’m doing the best that I can, given the circumstances.” Whatever your circumstances are- traffic, unruly family behavior, etc., understand that you can’t control outside influences, you can only control your behavior.
Two- Self-care: How are you going to take care of all the things if you don’t take care of you?
Find a healthy balance in getting enough sleep, movement, and food that improves your mood. Practice going to bed a little earlier when you can, carve out time for a 15-minute walk with your pup, a significant other, or friend or pick up a new book to read. A little distraction from your stressor is a great way to recharge.
Three- Self-soothe: Have a Portable Stress-Reliever with You at all Times.
Maybe is some lavender oil or a Stress Relief lotion from Bath and Body Works. Maybe it’s some Nora Jones or Jack Johnson. Maybe it’s finding every amazing blanket you own and snuggling with them for 6 minutes while you listen to two of your favorite holiday songs. Maybe it’s enjoying some peppermint tea or hot apple cider while gazing at nature. Figure out what it is that can help get your mind away from current stresses and into a state of relaxation.
Four- Set Personal Boundaries.
The key to avoiding burn-out and resentment is by setting personal boundaries. We all know at what point we reach our breaking point so practice saying “no” sometimes and setting realistic expectations (i.e. “No I can’t be there at 1:00. How about 3:00?”).
Five-My spin on the golden rule: Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend.
What a difference that would make, right? We take ourselves for granted but we always treat our favorite person with the most respect. I mean we are all award-winning besties to those that we love. We would never criticize our best friend or put them down for not looking, acting or being perfect, so don’t contribute any negative thoughts to yourself. Practice some “Treat yo self” with some self-love and attention to your own needs.
Six- Be mindful.
Simple definition: keep your mind where your feet are. Don’t miss out on memories because you’re so worried about the next thing or so hung-up on that unpleasant thing from the past. Practice being present. Don’t get anxiety about the future and don’t get depression from the past. You can’t change either of those. Practice focusing on surroundings and go through each of the 5 senses. What do you smell? What do you taste? What do you see? What do you hear? What can you feel with your fingertips?
Seven- Ask for help.
I repeat, ASK FOR HELP. Still not computing? Am I speaking another language? I know. Asking for help is one of the most difficult things to do for most of us. I’ll walk you through it… Practice asking “I forgot the whipped cream for the pie, would you mind grabbing it on the way?” “Would you mind selecting a playlist for the day?” “Could you please make sure everyone has a drink for the meal?” Delegating small tasks to other members of the family will help you focus on the important things you may be dealing with that day.
Hopefully, these tips can help you navigate whatever stressor it is that you may come across during the Holidays. I know that whenever I’m dealing with anxiety, getting on the phone with one of my best friends helps calm me down or going on a brisk walk around the neighborhood helps alleviate those feelings. If you are interested in learning more about Erin and her practices, you can find her Norcross location here and her Buckhead location here. Thank you Erin for all the guidance!