Tips to Survive the Holiday Season By Reynelda Jones LCSW-C

By Lisa Savage | Dec 5, 2022

Is the holiday season difficult for you? If so, you are not alone. The holidays can be a triggering experience for many people. Dealing with challenging family dynamics can potentially lead an increase of emotional distress.
During this holiday season, we reconnect with friends and family, some of whom we trust. Others who have taken part in exposing us to significantly difficult events. These experiences may have contributed to unhealthy self-soothing methods or self-medicating behaviors with substances, emotional eating, impulsive shopping, or even gambling. Furthermore, these experiences may have impacted your ability to sleep, and concentrate, increased feelings of helplessness, led to constant worrying or maybe you have become more sensitive to your environment.
All is not lost. You can be proactive about how you choose to deal with the holiday season. When it comes to both, emotional safety and physical safety, addressing these areas may help the holiday season to feel less stressful.
Coping List
Do you have a coping list? If not, you can make one today. A coping list can include several tools and techniques you use to reduce stress, the names of supportive people in your life and places you can go where you feel safe or need a distraction.
Having a coping list handy is helpful because it can be concrete information when problem solving and critical thinking is overcome by anxiousness and stress.
Departure Plan
If you engage in family events, be prepared to exit difficult situations. Having a departure plan may include:
• Determining how long you will attend the gathering
• Setting a deadline of when to leave and following through with it
• When you began to observe tension in the room, do not engage, choose to leave. • Stating, “I can only stay until 2:00 pm due to a prior engagement.”
Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
Boundaries are made to protect you mentally, physically, emotionally, and more. Boundaries allow others to know what treatment we will accept and what we will not accept. It is also a good idea to remember, the same individuals have boundaries as well. And they are hoping you follow them as well.
You have to be willing to show others how you desire to be respected. Otherwise, friends or family may believe that you are willing to settle for poor treatment.
Be Present
If you place all of your focus on potential events ahead you may miss out on what is happening before you in this moment.
Tune in to what is happening now by grounding yourself.
These questions may be helpful:
• What are 3 things I can hear?
• How many colors do I observe?
Using your senses not only helps you to stay in the present moment but also helps users to establish memories. Being more mindful to create memories when you are feeling safe, provides pleasant memories to look back on when necessary.
Gold Star Moment
If you are reading this, it means you have survived the holiday! This is your gold star moment.
After all, is said and done, take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. Take a step back and look at how far you’ve come. Despite what you have been through, you’ve made it this far.
There is beauty in that.
In fact, at this moment…this second…this speck of time of the grand universe…your presence is significant.
Throughout adversity, there is much to learn. I challenge you to ask yourself these questions:
• What have I learned about myself?
• My resilience?
• What changes did I make to protect myself using these holiday survival tools? • How did I show kindness to myself?
• What steps from my holiday survival tool can I apply in my daily life?
In conclusion, the holidays can be stressful for some people and retraumatizing for others. Past experiences may have taught you that the holiday season has the potential to not feel safe, but you can plan ahead to establish methods to feel more at ease and in control. To do so, setting up an exit plan, establishing a coping list, and increasing your ability to create safe memories can be beneficial. And when it is all complete, giving yourself a round of applause for your progress can go a long way.

About the Author
Reynelda Jones is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist, and Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional. She currently has a private practice called A Solution B in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she specializes in working with women leaders and female entrepreneurs struggling with stress, anxiety and PTSD. Ms. Jones utilizes traditional talk therapy with a fusion of evidence-based holistic care which incorporates nutritional wellness and environmental exploration to promote emotional wellness and whole-body wellness. You can follow Ms. Jones on Facebook: @A Solution B, Instagram: @a_solution_b Youtube: Reynelda Jones

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Lisa Savage

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