6 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

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“It’s the time of the season, for loving.” Those are the lyrics to The Zombies’ “Time of the Season,” and when the holidays roll in, it seems like every holiday is about love: having someone, those closest, and sharing the warmth and festivities with them. It can be an overwhelming feeling, and sometimes the holidays are tough, but “tough,” does not mean “impossible.” The following are tips for getting through the most difficult moments this holiday season.

1.   Realize what’s important. Take a couple seconds, and think about what you value the most. Whether it’s your mental health, your sobriety, your pet, your loved one(s), your friend(s), your favorite activity, song, food, beverage, or feeling. Hold on to the thought of being there for whatever or whoever that is, because whatever you need the most, is worth staying strong for, and whoever you need, needs you too.

2.   Breathe, dialectically. Breathe in, hold your breath, then breathe out. Try to increase the seconds for each breath in, held, and released, each time you repeat the cycle. By adding the, “hold your breath stage,” to the common, “breathe in, breathe out,” maxim, your lungs attempt to regulate breathing easier than you are allowing them to, and your brain requires more oxygenation than if it could breathe normally. Just expand the seconds for each stage, only until you feel relaxed.

3.   Indulge old traditions. Hot cocoa, a tasty cookie, outdoor and indoor activities—anything you once found blissful. Any calorie-counts or excess responsibilities can go on vacation for a single moment when the stress gets too high. (When unhappy, try what made you happy.)

4.   Explore a new tradition. Think about something seasonal you have never done, and maybe engage in it. (Examples include: ice skating, the smell of yule logs, lighting candles on dark nights, putting on a much fuzzier pair of socks, or anything better that you can think of. Even if it’s disastrous, it still makes for an interesting experience.)

5.   Vitamin D. Maybe it’s colder, maybe it’s darker, maybe people are staying inside more, but your body still needs sunlight. Sunlight provides your body with vitamin D, fresh air, and a break from the light coming from your screen. Scientifically, sunlight tends to have a positive effect on the body and the mind, so do not forget to include it.

6.   Look forward. A single holiday cannot be perfect, or as special, every year. The holidays and seasons are celebrated, not to “be special,” but “to be special again.” No one would have a holiday to have an exactly-identical experience every, single year of their entire life. A holiday is chance to bring comfort back, and a bad holiday experience one year (or even some years) is not set to be a bad holiday experience every year. If this year’s season feels unbearable, or if too many years have felt too troubling, there’s always time for change. Different people are around different years, different experiences can be had when we have them differently, and the approaching “New Year,” means exactly that: “It’s a new year, with new opportunities.”

This time of the season, stay safe, stay warm, stay smart, and remember that one of the greatest gifts is change. Snow falls, then washes away. Storms do not last forever.

Written by Nick Berreth