11 Selfcare Strategies to Cope During the Holidays
Updated: Nov 18, 2022
The holidays are sometimes stressful and not-so-jolly due to dealing with past trauma, generational trauma, toxic family members and coworkers, general anxiety and other stress. On top of the sometimes extremely painful emotional and psychological trauma that we may have, we also create self-inflicted stress. (Yes, I’m speaking to you – Helpers, Doers, Planners and “Strong” ones.)
Emotional and psychological trauma is defined as the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. We experience emotional and psychological trauma from an extremely distressing event that we were unprepared for, was out of our control, was cruel and may have been ongoing. Because of these events, our bodies adapted to help us survive, which is a beautiful part of how we are made…we can survive and adapt, then heal and thrive.
However, our body shouldn’t stay in survival mode. When it does, it causes survival responses to situations that really aren’t life-threatening. Through mindset, embodiment and therapeutic strategies, we can better deal with the effects of past trauma and current stress. We can also partner our body and brain to work more harmoniously as we learn to manage our nervous systems and enhance our abilities to regain equilibrium after the traumatic events.
As we enter into the holiday season, there may be a lot of emotions to deal with. The holidays bring stress (good and bad) and we have to be as ready as we can on all fronts.
We are all at different places in our life’s journey and in our stages of recovery. Regardless of whether you are just beginning or have been going for a while, here are some strategies that I hope may help you cope:
Say “No” – Often. As you may have heard before, “No” is a complete sentence. Explanations aren’t needed because you are an autonomous being who is in charge of your life and what you want to do. Limit your activities if it is just too much for you and are sensitive to sounds, sights or smells. Don’t punish yourself and stress out to be everywhere all the time so you can please others.
Do something different – are you always the host and cook? Split the duties with others in your family or friends’ group. Alternate holidays or the years in which you host and/or cook. Do a happy hour before or after the “grand gather” with certain family members instead of going to the main gathering. (Again, “I can’t make it this year” which also means “no” is a response.)
Ask for help and delegate – Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak or can’t handle everything. You are strong and you’re also very capable and self-aware. Delegate according to strengths (and who cooks what dish well). Get help ahead of time.
Preschedule your rest time – Schedule yourself into your schedule. Time-blocking techniques work. Put rest days, vacations and short breaks on your calendar. Let everyone know and set your out of office. Put you’re phone on DND, read a book and even take breaks from social media. Prepare to have a set phrase you will say to invites like “Thank you for inviting me, but I have other plans” or “I appreciate you thinking of me, but unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this year.” (other plans just might be a date with a lovely bath and a movie)
Surround yourself with comfort – wrap yourself and lushly support your body. Comfort yourself, if you need to. Have a warm, cozy spot with blankets, pillows, a warm beverage, aromatherapy and maybe a cuddle buddy, like a pet. Basically, prepare for the need to thaw after a “freeze” or when your trip wires are set off (triggers).
Give yourself permission – to make it through however you can and as healthily as you can; to know that the calendar date will change and you will be on the other side; and to love on yourself hard and be kind to yourself.
Put your support system on notice – communicate to your “squad” that you will need them. Tell your therapist, your coach, your bestie, your partner and even your kids that you will need their assistance, patience and empathy. Keep reminding them and let them know that before and/or after gatherings or parties you may be calling or texting them. Get connected to people who are in your corner.
Speak up for yourself – you can be the one who can heal or begin healing the intergenerational trauma in your family. This kind of trauma isn’t just external, it’s internal (like in our very DNA). We don’t always have the support and love from our families that we deserve. Sometimes, it’s due to things that happened before we were born. It may be a little scary to change the status quo. But you can do it. Your healing is for you and for future generations.
Use practical techniques for your mind, body and spirit – practice (actively and consistently use) affirmations, breathwork, meditation (I use Calm meditations on YouTube), grounding (bring yourself into your safe body and environment), body movement (dance, stretching, exercising) and hydration, nourishment, prayer and rest. Bottom line, take care of you.
Start new traditions – you can decide to start or add in new traditions so think about what you’ve always wanted to do or explore some different celebrations and traditions. Change some traditions you have now, like limiting gifting or money spent and focusing on what really matters to you. Take it slow if need be.
Liberate yourself – plan an escape route or prepare an escape plan. Set a time limit on your appearance and let everyone know that you have to leave at a certain time. What is feasible for you? An hour and a half? Two hours? Leaving right after dinner? Whatever it is, do it.
Be very gentle with yourself. Set realistic expectations, for others but especially for yourself. Remember that you have the choice on how you move through the holidays. You can’t be everywhere all the time. You can’t do it all and do it well. And you can’t be responsible for how someone else reacts to your boundaries and your needs. Your boundaries protect you – the most precious asset. It’s okay to make others uncomfortable, not in a punitive way, but in a way that keeps you safe and honors your needs and values.
Constantly check in with yourself and your feelings. How do you feel? What do you need? How can you have it? And then action towards that – what you need and how you want to feel. If you feel you need extra help or feel like you’re spiraling, get immediate medical help right away.
Every situation is different. But if you can plan, prepare and practice your selfcare throughout, on January 2nd you can look back and celebrate how you made it through.
I’d love to be a safe space for you and be a part of your support system because my focus is on you being whole. This is a “No Judgement Zone.”
2022 HOLIDAY OFFER!!! Give the Gift of Coaching - 3 sessions for $333 USD.
Or, if you want to go deeper into mindset, embodiment, radical self-acceptance and self-love, and make longer-lasting changes, I can meet with you 1:1 for 10 sessions in exchange for $1,250 USD.
Invest in yourself or a loved one. And let me know if these strategies helped you cope during the holidays!