Coping During the Holidays

The holidays are a time for celebrating, but it can be difficult for many for various reasons. Markers of time such as holidays can serve as a reminder to some that they aren’t celebrating such events with loved ones due to distance, illness, or death.

As an occupational therapist in mental health, here are some suggestions to help you cope, maybe thrive until we ring in the new year. In no particular order, the following can be effective in improving your quality of life:

  • Count your blessings.
  • Breathe. When stressed, inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Even a dozen deep breaths can have immediate results.
  • Take a break. Too much food? Family? Different political views? Noise? Remove yourself from the current situation and change the scenery.
  • Exercise. Go for a brisk walk, stretch, or play with little ones (children, pets).
  • Give someone a hug, shake a hand, or touch a safe zone such as a shoulder or forearm. If you know the person has a history of abuse, first ask permission to touch him/her.
  • Spend time in nature. Soak in the view of leaves or snow falling, the sound of water running, the warmth of the sun.
  • Ask for help. If you’re playing host or hostess, delegate. Involve others. Share an activity instead of trying to do it all yourself.
  • Nap. Sleep is highly underrated.
  • Find your common denominator with others instead of the differences. We’re apt to connect better with others when we recognize we share something with another.
  • Pray if that’s something you value.
  • Laugh. The world is made-up of humor generators and humor appreciators. Watch a funny movie, go to a comedy show, read a humorous book, view silly YouTube videos of cats jumping.
  • Make something creative: bake, paint, set the table in a unique way, arrange flowers, organize a playlist.
  • Be affectionate. Embrace your partner. Make love.
  • Choose not to argue.
  • Play with a stress ball in your hand.
  • Listen to music that soothes you.
  • Pet an animal.
  • Be vulnerable and share your feelings with the right person.
  • Cry.
  • Balance any feelings of grief with the gifts in your life.
  • Smell something that makes you feel good such as lavender, cinnamon, pumpkin.
  • Know when to ask for professional help. The phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-8255.

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