5 tips to help you get through the hustle and bustle of the season
By Vicky Coppens, MSW, LCSW
Program Director, Counseling Clinic
What is often said to be the most wonderful time of the year can also be filled with anxiety and dread. For some of us, the hustle and bustle of the season can evoke an overwhelming feeling to run away or hide from the holidays. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the holidays and not dread them!
1.) YOU decide who to spend your time with
The holidays are tough enough without having to spend time with people you do not feel comfortable with. Make a pact with yourself to only say “yes” to gatherings that you are excited about and “no” to those you are not. If you feel like you absolutely have to attend a social gathering you aren’t looking forward to, ask who will be there. Create a plan for how you will navigate interactions you aren’t looking forward to. This could mean bringing your own vehicle to the event or finding a quiet space you can duck away to if needed. After the holidays, make it a point to make plans with the people you care about most. Who says that the holidays can’t go beyond New Year’s Day?
2.) Set boundaries that are healthy and effective
Boundaries are important every day, yet this time of year seems to be when people struggle most. If you often find yourself giving into the demands of friends, family, neighbors or anyone else “because it’s the holidays,” remember that it’s okay to be true to yourself. Ask for help when you need it and say “no” if it will mean pushing your own needs and boundaries aside. Tell people how you are feeling and be assertive in your requests. Remember, you deserve to find as much joy in the holiday season as the people around you!
3.) Stick to your routine
The holidays can quickly become more enjoyable if both kids and adults stick to their regular daily routine. Too often, the added demands and excitement over the holidays can throw off your usual balance. Bedtimes may go out the window and you might find yourself overindulging in sweet treats or holiday cocktails. Any one of those things can impact how we feel throughout the season. If you’re a parent or caregiver, make sure that everyone sticks to their normal bedtime schedule. Be sure to eat a well-balanced meal before attending a holiday gathering to avoid those sugar highs and lows. If you had an exercise routine, allow yourself to still make time for it. The holidays can often feel chaotic, but keeping your routine can give you back your sense of control.
4.) Keep your to-do list manageable
Make a list and stick to it. When you plan ahead, you avoid setting yourself up for the last-minute stress of wanting to do more. If you are unsure of what to put on your list, ask for wish lists from the people you plan to buy for. Or, instead of buying gifts, you could make a donation to a cause that is special to your loved one. Allow yourself to make things simple yet meaningful at the same time.
5.) Seek professional help
If you are already connected to a therapist, make sure to schedule and keep your appointments throughout the busy holiday season. If you don’t currently see a therapist but feel like the holidays are impeding on your mental health, ask your doctor or a trusted friend for a referral to a therapist. Tell yourself once again that it is ok to ask for help. Our greatest wealth is our health and that includes mental wellness.
If you do find yourself looking for a therapist, Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin has a Counseling Clinic that can help. New clients can typically be seen within 1-2 weeks. For our Green Bay clinic, call 920-436-6800 or call our Fox Valley clinic at 920-739-4226. Let this holiday season be one to remember, not one that you want to forget. Keep these tips in mind and remember, you got this.
Vicky Coppens is a therapist and program manager of Family Services’ Counseling Clinic in Green Bay, WI. She has an extensive background working with families on family and relationship issues, parenting challenges, anger management, abuse, stress, and other major life changes. Vicky is trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Trauma-Informed Care.