Every year, it seems to come more quickly: the holiday season. While you may enjoy the smell of pine in the air, the nip of frost at your nose, and the opportunity to gather your family together, for many people, the holidays are a stressful and triggering time of year. Memories from dark times may be coming up for you, or you might feel enormous pressure to act a certain way. Not the mention, the colder weather and shorter days often can cause you to struggle with your mood. If you feel a lot of anxiety, emotional pain, and hurt coming up within you, know that you aren’t alone, and there are ways to manage these emotions. Here are some tips for staying grounded during the holiday season.

Adjust Your Expectations

You may want everything to be perfect, whether because you want to impress someone or you feel the need to have control during this time. But the truth is, it will never be perfect. Christmas cards get lost, holiday dinners get burnt, and relatives say inappropriate things over Thanksgiving dinner. A perfect holiday will never exist — and that’s okay.

Write Out Your Feelings

Journaling is a healthy way to cope with emotions at any time of year, but can be a particularly powerful tool with the rollercoaster that the holiday season can be. Whenever you’re feeling frustrated, lonely, hurt, angry, or anxious, writing out what you’re feeling can help you by giving you the ability to vent your emotions. You are also able to look at your emotional patterns so you can better anticipate how something will make you feel and what you can do about it. For example, you might find that you get especially angry with your mother when you haven’t eaten. Now, you know to make sure you’re well-fed before you call to arrange your trip home.

Break From Tradition

A big part of the holiday season is tradition, and while hanging mistletoe and listening to Christmas carols may be uplifting for some, for others, they can be painful reminders of difficult times. Free yourself from obligation and let go of traditions that cause you distress. If tagging along to the yearly New Year’s Eve party full of your couple friends when you’re recently single sounds too depressing to imagine, then turn down the invitation. Create a new tradition that celebrates all of the good things you have in your life, instead of continuing a tradition that makes you focus on what you don’t have.

Don’t Try to Please Everyone

The holiday season is full of parties, volunteer opportunities, and gifts to give. What is supposed to be a time to celebrate joy often feels like an endless list of obligations. Do yourself a favor and remember that you won’t be able to please everyone. Limit the number of commitments you make, and be sure to schedule in time for yourself as well.

Practice Gratitude and Mindfulness

Remember what the holidays are really supposed to be about: being grateful for everything you have. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of this time of year and never stop to be present in the moment and appreciate the love and joy in your life. Make sure to take some time to pause and reflect on the good instead of focusing on the stress.

If you’re struggling this holiday season, we would love to help you navigate your feelings with cognitive behavioral therapy in Palatine. Contact us today for a free phone consultation.