In-the-Moment Coping Tips for the Holiday Season
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
In many ways, the holidays are truly “the most wonderful time of year.” But they can also be filled with stress, frustration, and loneliness. Today, I want to share some in-the-moment coping tips to guide you in the weeks ahead…or any time of year! Here are six tips to help you face challenges as they arise — no matter where you are or who you’re with (including your kids, whose inquisitive eyes seem to watch your every move!).
Coping Techniques for the Holiday Season
1. Pay attention to your breath. You’ve most likely heard this advice before — and for good reason! Take 10 deep breaths, with exhalations that are twice as long as inhalations. This measured, focused breathing helps to calm your nervous system, lower your heart rate, and ease tense muscles.
2. If your thoughts start to spiral out of control, take a moment to ground yourself in reality. Below, I walk you through two simple mindfulness exercises to try:
S.T.O.P.: Slow down. Take a breath. Observe your body, thoughts, and feelings. Process your possibilities and proceed.
5-4-3-2-1: Look for 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste.
3. Complete a sensory activity. In one of the grounding exercises above, you thought about your five senses. Now, let’s take it a step further and rely on physical touch. Take off your shoes and step outside barefoot (if the weather allows, of course!). Splash cold water on your face. Cuddle up with a soft blanket. You can even ask your kids to join you. These simple behaviors take you out of your head and bring you back into your body.
4. Find a peaceful spot. When the hustle and bustle of the holidays feels overwhelming, it’s important to retreat to a safe and quiet space. Pop in some ear plugs and spend a few minutes alone in the bathroom or laundry room. You can also listen to a meditation app on your AirPods, read a favorite book, or write in a gratitude journal.
5. Reach out to your support system. Chances are, you aren’t the only person in your circle of friends who is dealing with the high expectations of social media or even a demanding relative. Connect with a loved one and vent your frustrations! Something as simple as speaking your thoughts and feelings out loud can make you feel more in control.
How Therapy Can Help
6. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Despite your best efforts, you may still find yourself struggling throughout the holidays. If you are unable to sleep or lack the motivation to complete routine activities; persistently feel depressed, anxious, or hopeless; and/or find yourself plagued by physical ailments, talk to your doctor or therapist.
I hope these six coping tips offer you some moments of calm as this year comes to a close. Happy holidays!