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Tips for Staying Balanced This Holiday Season

December 1, 2017

Stay balanced this season with tips from the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program

A season that some describe as "the most wonderful time of the year," the holidays can leave many feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Maintain your balance, and end the year on a high note with these helpful tips from the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program for surviving the holidays.

Acknowledge your feelings. It is normal to feel sadness and grief during the holiday season. It is OK to take time to cry and express your feelings. You do not have to “force” yourself to be happy just because it is “the season.” 

Reach out. If you are feeling lonely, seek out friends, family, or other connections. Find support and companionship through community social events, religious activities, or volunteering your time to help others.

Adjust your expectations. Decide which expectations are achievable and which are not. Rather than planning everything and putting yourself in charge of the holiday season, work with your friends and family members to make collaborative decisions. If you have rigid expectations of how things “should” go, you will almost always be let down.

Don’t underestimate the time it will take to complete holiday tasks. Shopping, cleaning, cooking, and decorating are not quick and easy tasks. Rather than creating situations where you are running around like a “chicken with its head cut off” because you double-booked your time, create a timeline for yourself. Add at least 30-60 minutes to each one and take a few moments to plan your next day’s activities.

Know how much money you will devote to this holiday. Avoid going into debt that might make you feel guilty and depressed. Plan ahead, shop sales, compromise and stick to your budget.

Remind yourself to SLOW DOWN. When you find your mind or body racing around, or if you are getting agitated, angry, or overwhelmed, remember to breathe. Everything will be okay. As you breathe in, think of the word “inhale” and as you breathe out, think of the word “exhale.” Continue to focus on your breathing, silently and steadily inhaling and exhaling, to calm your nervous system and stay present.

Make a plan. If you are stuck spending holiday dinner with a relative who seems to push your buttons, do some preemptive planning beforehand. Strategize where you are going to sit, what conversations you will have, and how you will respond to sensitive issues or intrusive questions. Brainstorm a few retorts to have at the ready, remaining firm yet respectful. Develop an exit plan for when you’ve had enough. Excuse yourself and go for a nice brisk walk outside to help clear your head and re-establish your calm. Remind yourself it is not about you, even when it feels personal.

Avoid Excess. Don’t eat or drink too much. Practice moderation with holiday favorites. Stick with a healthy, high protein diet. Keep your blood sugar stable to avoid mood swings.

Don’t abandon healthy habits. Those things that you do to help you manage stress: keep doing them. If you exercise, make sure you keep to your routine. Take a break and enjoy a cup of tea, a hot bath or a massage. Get plenty of sleep. Remember, you can’t be there for others if you don’t take care of your needs first.

If you need help getting through the holiday season, the D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program is here to help with free, confidential assistance. Please do not hesitate to reach out at 202-347-3131.