This year has been one of the most challenging times in US history, and it’s my hope that this 2020 Holiday Season Survival Guide will help you get through the end of it.
Due to all of the COVID-19 pandemic stress and losses, conspiracy theories, and extreme political polarization, we’ve seen an increase in harmful psychological and physical symptoms and behaviors.
Perhaps you are coping with all of this by checking out from reality when life gets too much: overeating, undereating, alcohol and drug consumption, gambling, spending, and pornography. These are compulsive and unhealthy behaviors, and will only get worse over time unless a change is made.
When you add the stress, anxiety, and depression of the holiday season to everything else that is happening – you have a recipe for disaster.
Here are 3 steps you can take to help survive during this holiday season.
Step 1: Take an Inventory
Awareness of your issues is the first step in making meaningful changes in your life.
Now is an ideal time to stop and take an inventory of your behavior over the last eight months. Ask yourself:
- How are you coping?
- What “escape” behaviors are you using to help you cope with stress?
- Are you noticing an increase in irritability?
- Do things bother you that normally wouldn’t have?
- Has worry, obsessive thinking, and rumination increased?
- How do the news and social media affect your emotional wellbeing?
- Are you fearful, on guard, and hypervigilant?
- Are you taking care of your body?
Step 2: Evaluate your Inventory
The only way to make a change is to carefully evaluate your inventory. (Remember, you are not condoning your behavior.)
- Approach your inventory through the eyes of kindness and compassion.
- Know that you did the best you could at the time to cope.
- Acknowledging that the past is over, and you want to handle things differently.
- Move forward from a place of wisdom and self-care.
Step 3: Commit to Taking Action
Please take the time now, to list any small changes that you can easily implement during the days ahead. Now is the time to be mindful and aware of your intention to approach the holiday season from a place of inner peace and calm.
Here are some small changes that can make a big difference:
- Set a timer to remind you to get off social media.
- When you stop at a traffic light, take deep breaths to help calm you.
- When you deep breathe, on the exhale, remind yourself to let go of the past. This can help you to stop ruminating.
- Limit watching, listening, or reading the news; negative information within 2 hours before bed can disturb your sleep.
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry or thirsty; focus on eating a healthy breakfast to start your day on the right foot, and carry protein and/or veggie snacks and water with you.
- Step outside in the morning and take in the beauty of a brand new day. Start afresh!
- Set your intention to start over anytime you feel unbalanced.
It’s only natural to get thrown off and feel unbalanced by life’s events. But, if we consciously choose (intend) how we want to be, we are more apt to remember to come back to this intention over and over again.
Living with intention is a process – and it’s never perfect. So don’t be self-critical; just begin again, set your intention, and commit to taking action.
Let’s end 2020 in a way we can be proud of!
May you and yours have a healthy, joyous, and peaceful Holiday Season!
Isobel McGrath is a licensed International Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, and Certified Hypnotherapist located in St. Augustine, FL.
Isobel provides therapy, counseling, and hypnosis in person at her St. Augustine Beach office, and through Telehealth. She is dedicated to providing exceptional, collaborative care, and truly cares about her clients and their well-being.