Good morning (or afternoon, depending on when you are reading this)!
In my last blog, we started thinking about the upcoming holiday seasons and I shared my intention to create an eight part "mini-series" for how to navigate the challenges of the holiday season. Today's blog is part two of that mini-series. Today we're going to be talking about the importance of having a plan for managing the holidays and then we will get into the specifics of what to put in that plan. Your plan will be different depending on how you plan to spend the holiday during the year of Covid. There are endless options for how to spend the holiday, and there is no wrong or right way, but a plan is a good idea. Please do what is best for you and those you love for your (and their) wellbeing!
If you were in my office right now (and in the Covid age, please know how much I miss those face to face sessions!), I'd probably tell you I want you to make a list, with the numbers 1-10 down the right side of a piece of notebook paper. Make a list of the top 10 things you think will stress you out this holiday, including people, places and things you have to do that you really don't want to do. Now think about the behaviors you want to avoid in response to those things, like drinking or using drugs or getting into a big fight with your Aunt Sally.
Now turn your piece of paper over and write 1-10 again on the right side of the paper. List 10 things you can do instead of drinking, drugs or fighting with your family members. I usually tell people number one should ALWAYS be "take a time out" and get away from the immediate situation if you need to do that and take a couple deep breaths to self-regulate. So what can go on the lines for items 2-10? Anything.
Common things people include are doing things to distract from the stressor (taking a walk, complete a puzzle, watch a movie), using a relaxation technique (more deep breathing perhaps or a guided meditation), calling a support person, getting to a support group meeting (online or otherwise) or tapping into a professional resource like the National Crisis Hotline or other phone support. There are many other options, including one of my favorites, cognitive restructuring, but I'm saving those for another day.
So please make your list of 9 additional things and write them down now when you are not stressed out. This is very important, because in the midst of the stress, you will most likely not be thinking about how to calm down. If you create this plan in advance, you are increasing the likelihood of handling the stressful situation the way you truly want. Also important, this plan can be revised any time. As you find new ways to manage things, add them!
If you completed this exercise, please comment below and indicate one healthy, positive thing you want to include in your plan.
If you have any questions about my writing or if you would like to talk with me about scheduling an appointment, please feel free to call me at 330-451-6306 for your free 15 minute phone consultation. You may also send me a confidential email by going to the following webpage: https://firstname.lastname@example.org and entering in your message. You can also visit my website (if that's not where you are reading this) at http://recoveryworksllc.net for more information about me and the services I offer. If you are in crisis, please contact the Coleman Crisis Center in Canton, Ohio at 330-452-6000 for immediate help or the national crisis line at 1-800-275-TALK (8255). You can also text the Ohio Crisis Line by sending "4 hope" to 741-741 or go to the nearest emergency department for immediate assistance.
Until next week, take care of yourselves and happy planning!