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Surviving the Holidays

The holiday season is quickly approaching. For some people, the impending festivities are joyful occasions. For others, it can be a season of challenges. Wherever you fall on holiday cheer, there are some practical ways you can set yourself up for success throughout the holiday season.

Manage Social Anxiety

Sometimes gatherings can be a source of stress. Entering into a social situation, especially with extended family, presents several unknowns that can be anxiety-inducing. It can be helpful to give yourself some control back by prepping for the gatherings. For example, having a code word for your partner to rescue you from an awkward conversation with an uncle about politics or having a set time you plan to leave the event. It can even be helpful to bring a fidget in your pocket if you feel restless.

Set Boundaries

It might seem premature to start planning for the holidays now, but it can actually help to be proactive. Talk to your family and friends to get an idea of what gatherings should be on your calendar. If you have a partner, talk to them to figure out how much time you want to offer each of your families this year and stick to it. Making a game plan prior to a week before Christmas can prevent hurt feelings and help to manage stress.

Make Your Own Traditions

Family traditions are valuable. They make the holiday season more meaningful and personal. Engaging with extended family in traditions is often a lot of fun. My family does a wild white elephant gift exchange every year. In addition to the practices of your family, it can also be important to have your own traditions. Sit down and reflect on what the holiday season means to you. Is there anything that you could implement to make your holiday season more in line with what you value? The holiday season is so busy. It can be easy to let it slip away without doing the things you really want to do.

Honor Loved Ones

If you have lost a friend or family member that was close to you, the holidays can also serve as a reminder that they are not present anymore. Sitting with that reality can be challenging. It is vital to acknowledge and honor their absence. Sharing a memory of that person at dinner, lighting them a candle on Christmas eve, or participating in one of their favorite holiday activities can all be ways to honor someone you loved. 

If you’re struggling with the thought of surviving the holiday season, give our office a call. We’d love to help support you through it. 


About the Author:

Sarah Hiemstra is a counselor in Ada, MichiganSarah Hiemstra is a Master’s Level Intern at Lifeologie Grand Rapids! She specializes in working with teens and young women. Currently, Sarah is attending Spring Arbor University to obtain her Master of Social Work degree!