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Survival Tips for the Holidays

Guest Writer: Lynn Bridgers, Ph.D., Counselor-in-Training

A counseling intern offers her insight on how to survive the hectic holidays.

Surviving the Holidays

First tip — decide whether you’re going to spend the holidays with your family or without your family.  This may be more complicated than it seems, but the key to the decision is to keep it simple, thereby reducing stress.

Another element in this decision is to establish how much you can realistically spend.  Can you afford to host the entire family?  Can you afford to spend a significant amount on travel?   Are you making your decision based on what you think others want you to do or are you making your decision based on what you really need — rest, relaxation, and recreation.

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If you do decide to spend it with your family:

  • Figure out your escape routes.  Know the neighborhood and what’s available as an alternative to family time.

  • Develop a group of strategies for disengaging from family activities and family dynamics that may reopen old wounds.  Does the dog need to be walked?  Can you run out to the grocery store?  Is there a museum nearby??  Or a newly-released movie?

  • Do your best to get enough sleep.  For most of us, that means seven or eight hours.  If not, don’t underestimate the value of a nap.  Consider stealth locations for taking naps.

  • Eat a high protein breakfast.  Too much sugar and caffeine can leave you somewhat unbalanced.  Rises and falls in blood sugar can have a big effect on your moods.

  • If you exercise regularly, keep it up on the holidays.

  • Use a lot of hand sanitizer.

If you elect to spend your holidays without your family, or are unable to spend your holidays with family:

  • Do something different.  Figure out what you like about the holidays and what you really can’t stand.   Avoid the things you can’t stand.  Go where you want to go, and do what you want to do.

  • Take care of yourself.  Pamper yourself.  Have a massage.  Buy yourself a really fine lunch or dinner.  Take longs baths or saunas.  Call someone you miss talking to.  Cook a gourmet meal and buy a bottle of good wine, whether it’s a traditional holiday meal or not.

  • Watch movies you love. It doesn’t matter if they have a holiday theme.  It just matters that you love them.

  • Watch movies you’ve never seen before.  English costume dramas?  Foreign language films?  Murder mysteries?  Commercial cable programs?  New releases?  Animation or documentaries?

  • Listen to music you love.  Is it music from your high school days?  Music from your college days?  An album you’ve always loved?  A new download that gives you just the right feeling?

  • Listen to new music.  Try a category of music you’ve never listened to before.   It could be 1940s jazz, 1930s blues, 1960s rock-and-roll, 19th century Russian composers, or the work of a single composer like Bach, Mozart or Tchaikovsky.  Then again, it could be Afro-Cuban.

The holidays mark the end of the calendar year as well as the end of the astrological year and for many companies the end of the business year.  For many people, they also mark the end of a particular emotional year.  They allow us to pause and take inventory of what happened in that  particular year.  But remember, they also mark a beginning.  That includes the person you want to become in the year ahead.  And they offer signs of the direction you want to take in the upcoming year.

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