Preparing Your Emotional Toolbox for Holiday Gatherings By Hope Venetta, LCMHCA, NCC

By | Dec 18, 2023

As we gear up for holiday festivities, let’s talk about family gatherings, triggers, and the art of emotional preparedness. Grab a cup of tea or your favorite comfort drink, and let’s chat.

The holidays are just around the corner, and while we’re dreaming about mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, it’s essential to gear up emotionally for the family shindig. We all know that holiday gatherings can be a mixed bag of joy, love, and sometimes, a sprinkle of emotional turbulence.

Here are some tips to get your emotional toolbox ready for the Thanksgiving feast:

  1. Mindful Check-In: Take a moment to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What emotions are bubbling beneath the surface? Acknowledging your emotional state is the first step to navigating it effectively.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations: It’s easy to get caught up in the Hallmark movie version of the holiday season. Real life is messier, and that’s perfectly okay. Set realistic expectations for the season, knowing that it might not be perfect, but it can still be special in its own way.

  3. Plan Your Escape Routes: Have a game plan for when the conversation turns into rocky territory. Identify safe spaces or activities that allow you to step away and regroup. Maybe it’s a cozy corner with a book or a quick walk around the block.

  4. Establish Healthy Boundaries: Know your limits and communicate them if needed. Whether it’s discussing certain topics or politely declining invasive questions, set boundaries that protect your peace and well-being.

  5. Practice Gratitude in Advance: Before gatherings happen, take a moment to reflect on the positive aspects of your relationships. This proactive gratitude practice can create a buffer against potential triggers, reminding you of the love and connection that also exist.

  6. Bring Your A-Game Self-Care: Load up on self-care before the big day. Whether it’s a bubble bath, a good book, or some meditation, ensure you’re taking care of yourself leading up to the holidays. A well-nourished soul is better equipped to handle whatever the day throws your way.

  7. Build a Support System: Identify a friend or family member you can lean on during the festivities. Having someone you trust by your side or on speed dial can make all the difference.

Remember, you’re not alone in navigating the emotional rollercoaster of family gatherings. We’re all a work in progress, and the holiday season is just one more chapter in our collective story. So, as you prep your collards and your emotional toolkit, know that you’ve got the strength and resilience to handle whatever comes your way.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with love, understanding, and just the right amount of sweet potato pie.

About The Author

Hope Venetta is a Nationally Certified Counselor with 14 years of experience in the field of mental health continuing education. Currently, Hope serves as an LCMHCA at a private group practice in Durham, NC, where she provides therapy to couples and individuals dealing with a diverse range of presenting issues. You can learn more about Hope at



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