This time of year can bring added stress and anxiety for anyone. Yet, for those of us already dealing with depression, grief, trauma, or PTSD, enjoying the festivities of the holiday season can become even more challenging and difficult.
Even if one is not dealing with a particular issue, the holiday season is packed full of different situations that can bring out the worst moods in many people. There can be body image issues from all the holiday treats and foods. There can by relationship issues and family issues where there are conflict and communication break-downs.
Regardless of your own personal struggles, you are not alone. The best approach to the holiday season is to be aware and get prepared. Doing so can help you feel in control to help prevent feeling overwhelmed in any situation and unplanned events.
While you cannot prepare for every different situation, it is still a good idea to have a plan in place. You also need to remember to take care of yourself first and do what is best for you.
Tip #1: Plan Ahead by Looking Backwards
Take a moment to reflect on past holiday seasons and the challenges you faced. What were the most difficult and mentally draining moments? What behaviours, situations or events triggered these moments? By reflecting, it gives you the opportunity to be more aware of what your triggers are and how to prepare.
Tip #2: Don’t Put Off Counselling Because It Is the Holidays
Being prepared doesn’t mean you should skip counselling sessions. Maintaining your normal sessions is beneficial to help you become more aware and get prepared. Even with preparation, the thing to remember is there can still be unexpected moments that could occur. The purpose of preparation is to help you from being blindsided.
Tip #3: It Is Okay to Feel Sad
If you recently lost a loved one or this is the first holiday season without them, it is normal to feel sad. It is important to acknowledge this feeling and take positive steps to express it in a healthy manner.
Tip #4: Have an Escape Plan
For holiday gatherings with friends and family, have an escape plan in place should you start to feel overwhelmed by a particular situation. Remove yourself from interactions as needed, and move to a different area of the home. It is also acceptable to excuse yourself and leave the gathering.
Tip #5: You Do Not Have to Face the Holidays Alone
Aside from your counsellor, if you are up to it, talk to your friend and family about the various situations that you find uncomfortable. They may surprise you and help you by being supportive and helping you get through the holiday season.
The best gift you can give yourself this holiday is taking care of yourself first. For help becoming aware and getting prepared, please feel free to contact Toronto individual and couples counsellor, Ellen Starr at 416-488-3102 to schedule an appointment today!