Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

T'is the season of peace, love and joy. It is also a time when emotions run high, frustrations peak and tempers get triggered. Here are some simple steps to help you plan your actions rather than relying on your reactions to the holiday stresses that might cross your path.

1. This Too Shall Pass

Remember the holiday season is short. For some of us it may be we need to affirm “This too shall Pass”. After the holiday season you will have more time to do things put aside or overlooked this season. It helps to maintain a broader context and a longer-term perspective.

2. The Gift of Imperfection

Bryne Brown wrote an awesome book on this topic. During the holidays resist the urge to be perfect and embrace who you are. Embrace the spirit of the season, embrace your connections to friends and loved ones, and embrace the authentic you. Your friends and loved ones will not care about an overcooked turkey and years to come it will be a great memory you share in laughter.

3. It is What It Is

During the holidays we feel increased pressure to bond with our loved ones. We are bombarded with messages of “the most wonderful time of the year”, so we set unrealistic expectations for our holiday experiences. Truth is your irritating relatives are not going to change because it is Christmas. In fact the stresses of the season may actually intensify their emotions. So keep your expectations realistic and then make a coping plan .

4. Identify Your Triggers and Set a plan:

Identify the things that irritate and trigger you before you attend holiday events. Think of some techniques that you can use to contain your own emotions so as not to become reactive at these times. Remember you respond to a triggering event is always your choice. You are in control.

•Don’t engage- Smile, nod and change the topic, or say “Thank you for sharing” and change the subject.

•Take a Time Out - Excuse yourself and walk outside to get some fresh air; or maybe you to answer an important text, or just go to the restroom and run some cold water on your face.

•Think Positive - Visualize your passive scene in nature, a place that soothes you and calms you down. Compose a positive affirmation that will be calm and relax you.

5. Secure an Ally

If possible invite someone to attend functions with you, someone who know and understands you and your family dynamic. If not possible then alert someone that you might need some texting support during your holiday visits.

6. Keep Some of Your Daily Routine

Holidays can be disruptive to your daily routine, especially when you are traveling back to your hometown. Try to do at least one thing that you do during your normal daily routine during this holiday time.

7. Remind Yourself of HALT

• Hungry - Never let yourself get too Hungry- Check if you have you eaten today?

Angry - Never let yourself get too Angry- Am I angry at something today. Do I need to process this? How can I reframe my story.

Lonely - Never let yourself get too Lonely- Do I have support in place in my life? Am I using this support during times of stress?

Tired - Never let yourself get too Tired- If I am overly stressed, Have I slept? Can a nap improve my situation?

8. Secure Your Sobriety -

If you absolutely have to attend and cannot say no have a plan set:

• Have your own means of escape set. Don't catch a ride with someone else who might want to stay longer, when you're ready—and actually need—to leave. Go in your own car. Taking Uber or Lyft? Be sure your credit card information is up-to-date. If taking public transportation, know the schedule, so that you will not miss your ride.

•Never be hungry- As we saw before hunger adds to your stress. It is a good idea to bring something with you to munch on you, incase food is late arriving, or your are not fond of what is being served.•Grab a non alcoholic drink a.s.a.p. - ( or bring your own) Once you arrived get a nonalcoholic drink. Be careful bartender heard you correctly and is pouring you a plain soda. Keep it in your hand throughout the party. People are less likely to want to encourage you to drink, if you have one in your hand. It is only your drink when you are holding it. Once you put it down it is no longer your drink so go back and start over.

•Have a simple answer - You do not need to give the history of the Civil War when asked why you are not drinking. A simple "I just don't feel like it tonight,” is fine.

•Not all Alcohol come in bottles. Know what you are eating. What you don’t know can hurt you. The trigger can be the taste of alcohol or just the psychological thrill of knowing you are having alcohol can be the trigger to relapse.

9. Just Say No

Sometimes you need to take a hard look at your situation and realize that it may be too toxic an environment for you to enter, so politely just say no to the invitation.

10. Remember tip #1 - This Too Shall Pass

Plan something you can seriously look forward to when this is all over. It can be some quiet at home time or coffee with close friends, put something on the calendar.

#parenting #holidaystress

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