December 9, 2019
Everyone says that the holidays are wonderful and they talk about how great it is to be around family. But with the extra stressors at this time of the year, even the closest-knit families can be challenged and drama of some sort comes up. When you add to it things like mental health and substance use, it can be a recipe for disaster. However, this year, you have worked hard to improve yourself. So this year when you hear “home for the holidays” and imagine spending more time with your family, you can breathe. You’ve got this.
You have new tools you have gained in learning how to cope with everything in your life, and the holiday season is actually a perfect time for you to test them out and see what you have learned. You know how to communicate better and so even if the holidays have been typically stressful in the past, you have upgraded yourself and your skillset and are ready for whatever your family has to offer.
Here are some ideas that can help you have control over your holiday family experience:
• Manage your mental health. Your new superpower is you. No one asks to have mental health challenges. You have learned how to be a better person because of your hard work, though. Remember during the holidays that even with everything you have going on, you need to keep track of how much you sleep, what you eat, and how much you are exercising.
The extra social engagements, changes in schedules and routine, and the sheer amount of family who is around can be overwhelming. Remember what you have learned about what you need to stay mentally healthy. This is the most important key for you to enjoy the holidays.
• Stay sober and clean. With so much going on, there will be more opportunities to use substances. Don’t. You’ve already learned at your age where that gets you. Plus, you have already done more to improve yourself and overcome challenges than some people do in a lifetime. It is not worth throwing all of that work away for a quick fix. Also, there are going to be some amazing stories on Instagram about other people’s crazy family holiday stories, and you don’t want to miss them.
• Make time for your routines. Whatever you do that helps you stay sane, keep doing it. Do you walk the dog? Go for a jog? Exercise with a friend? Or do you read, create art, listen to or play music, play video games? Whatever it is that you do for you, that makes you happy, don’t skip it just because the holidays are here. Make time, it’s your sanity.
• Choose your attitude each day. You don’t have control over your family or the events that happen, but you do have control over how it affects you. You don’t have to choose to be happy all the time, either. Your attitude isn’t for other people, it’s for you. Think of it as the sunglasses you wear for your life. Whatever happens, you see through the lenses of your choice.
• Stay free of emotional traps. Is there anyone that gets under our skin more than family members? They know your buttons and triggers, and they are stressed out, too. You can choose how to react, though. Surprise everyone in the family this year and show them that you are equipped to manage the drama. Be the one that everyone talks about because of the lack of drama.
• Find time for friends. Having conversations with other people who care about us can help us step back and take a break from any family stressors. You may not always have control over when you talk to them, but keep in touch as you can. They are probably dealing with family, too.
• Plan or suggest new traditions. Is there something specific about the holidays that triggers you that you want to replace? Or something you wished your family could do? Like have a family game night, a movie night, or visit that place you always talk about going to? Suggest it and show your desire to be a force for good for your family’s holiday.
• Offer to help. How often do you look at the holidays from your own standpoint? You are managing mental health and everything else, it’s enough to worry about yourself. One of the reasons your family is stressed out is because they are managing extra things this time of the year, too. Why not offer to help someone else? You might be surprised at how well this works out for everyone, and you may even have fun while working. Be someone’s angel.
There is no way to control what happens at family gatherings or how other people react to stress. But you can control how you react. You have the tools now to control your own emotions, to communicate more effectively. What your family chooses to do and say is up to them. But this year, you can not only breathe when you hear “home for the holidays,” you can actually take control back of your version of it. You can make it the best holiday season yet. Who knows? You might inspire the rest of your family to do so, too.
Potomac Programs is the gift that keeps on giving… to yourself and to your family. For questions call 1-855-809-0409. Make your best family memories ever this season with the all-new you.