How to Stay Mindful Over the Holidays

The holiday season can bring with it feelings of joy and togetherness, however for many it can also bring a whole host of new stressors and anxiety. Especially in 2020 with everyone dealing with the disastrous effects of Covid-19, this holiday season can be accompanied by many complicated feelings of overwhelm and stress. Whether you are seeing family this holiday season, or staying physically isolated, the holiday season can bring with it new and difficult challenges. In the face of these challenges it can be very helpful to have a plan to help you stay grounded and mindful of your emotions and needs.

Here are some things to think about this holiday season to make sure you are staying mindful and resourcing yourself in areas you might need support.

Be aware of the impact of being with family

“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family” – Ram Das

You might be looking forward to spending the holidays with your family this year. This may mean you are seeing members of your family that you haven’t seen in a while or that you only see at this time of year. While holidays with family can be a very positive time, it’s important to remember that for many people, spending time with family brings its own unique difficult emotions and stressors. 

Even in the most well adjusted family units, spending time with family over the holidays can bring up old and uncomfortable emotions. Our families have the unique ability to trigger our deepest stressors and anxieties in a confounding and overwhelming way. If you have difficult memories or past experiences with your family, these feelings can be triggered and intensified by spending time with family this holiday season.

If you are seeing your family for the holidays, remember to prepare yourself for the possibility that difficult emotions or memories might come up. Thinking in advance about what it’s like to be with your family can help you maintain mindfulness of your needs and can help you have a positive visit this season.

Moderate and manage your drug and alcohol consumption

The holiday season is often a time when people consume more drugs and alcohol. There are more family gatherings, more opportunities for celebration, and more parties. If you know you have struggled with your drug and alcohol use in the past, it’s important to prepare yourself with plans and knowledge of what lies ahead in the next few months.

Moderation and sobriety could be difficult for you, especially given the added stressors this season can bring. If you suspect you might struggle with your drug and alcohol use, it can be helpful to set a goal or plan for yourself to moderate your use.

Maybe you want to limit the number of drinks you have at any given gathering, or you want to plan to stay sober for specific parties. If you can plan ahead, and get support from a therapist or friend who can help hold you accountable, this will be a big support as you go through the sometimes stressful holiday season.

Staying mindful, and taking an honest look at your drug and alcohol habits around the holidays, will serve you to get through family gatherings and holiday celebrations in a grounded and positive way.

Remember to reach out to others if you are isolated

While some people are dealing with the stress of being with family over the holidays, other people are staying isolated due to the current pandemic. If you are going to be alone over the holidays, it’s important that you remember to connect with others in this time that is usually accompanied by celebration and gathering. Dealing with the isolation of Covid-19 has been difficult for many of us this year, and going through the holidays with Covid will bring with it its own unique stressors.

Remember that you can reach out for support even if you are socially distanced. Setting up family zoom calls, online game nights with friends, getting involved in online therapy groups, or doing online individual therapy are all great ways to feel connected and in touch while you are physically isolated.

Community and connection are extremely important for your mental health. Especially during a time when you are used to connecting with family and friends, be sure to take the extra effort to connect with others if you are alone this holiday season.

Regulate your stress level through self care

Your self care is always a great way to stay mindful and grounded, and during a stressful holiday season this is doubly important.

 Here is a short list of self care activities, take a look at this list and identify the things you already like to do, and maybe notice a few things you don’t yet do that you’d like to start:

 


Taking a bath

Going for a walk

Meditating

Doing Yoga

Talking to your therapist

Talking to your friend

Watching a movie

Burning incense or diffusing essential oils

Reading a book

Exercising

Watching your favorite comedian

Making a vision board

Ordering or cooking your favorite food

Self care can look many different ways. Identify and remember your favorite self care activities, and schedule time in your calendar specifically for self care this holiday season. With the stressors of the holidays, Covid-19, family, and the overall craziness of this past year, it’s important that you intentionally set aside time and space for yourself.

Stay positive through the winter

“In the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” J.R.R. Tolkien

The winter is often a difficult time. The shorter days give you less sunlight, the cold weather keeps you indoors more, and the stressors of the holidays loom. Remember that the winter only lasts so long and soon the days will start getting longer again and we will be experiencing a new spring.

Maybe you can take notice of the patterns of nature and recognize that whatever stressors you are going through right now have their own seasons. Everything passes, and this difficult time will too. Staying on track, mindful, and grounded through difficult times is not easy to do. Perhaps the patterns of nature can teach us how to hunker down, maintain hope, and trust that better days await. 

 

Hi, I’m Connor. I offer online psychotherapy and counseling in California. I take a mindfulness and depth oriented approach to help people navigate depression, addiction, trauma, and relationship issues. If you are needing support this holiday season, I would be happy to connect to see if I’m a good fit to help you.

Connor Moss AMFT #114002

Supervised by Renee Beck MFT #21060

www.warmheartcounseling.com/contact

510.929.1700

 

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