Holiday Coping Skills

Thursday, November 3, 2022 | By Andrew Bramlett


Holidays gatherings and mental health challenges often go hand-in-hand. Every year people gather together for small to large holiday events. You might have family, community, work and personal events that you need to attend this holiday season. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah are on the way. Before you know it, New Year’s Eve will be here. This time of year, it is really important to be equipped with the best holiday coping skills you can muster. If you are in recovery from a mental health disorder and/or addiction, these skills are even more important to your wellbeing. 

Acknowledging How You Feel 

If you are in recovery from an addiction and/or mental health disorder, you probably have already learned how to properly acknowledge your feelings. But, that doesn’t mean as the holidays roll around, you won’t forget the tips you have previously learned. With this being said, acknowledging how you feel is the first step to keeping your mental health intact throughout this holiday season. You can acknowledge these feelings through journaling, talking to a loved one, going to a meeting, attending therapy or speaking the words to yourself. 

Talking to Someone Else 

Talking to someone else that you can trust is crucial around the holidays. Sure, you may have a ton of family members and friends who are going to be attending the holiday events with you. The more people, the more love – right? Well, just because there is more love, doesn’t mean that being around more people won’t bring you more stress and anxiety. 

If this is the case, our Emerald Coast Journey Pure Recovery Center team highly recommends you confide in one or two people who are the closest to you. These should be your anchor supports during the holidays. 

Slow Things Down

We all have said a time or two – slow down time. While we know that time can’t actually go any slower, we can slow things down. People have become so accustomed to being on the go all the time that they don’t leave time for relaxation or rest. If you are in recovery from a mental health disorder and/or addiction, it is crucial that you slow things down around the holidays. If you keep going at the speed you are now, your chances of having a relapse is going to skyrocket. 

Making Lists 

Are you becoming overwhelmed already with all the holidays and events that are coming up? If so, stop what you are doing and take a deep breath. Maybe, take 10. Then, get a notebook and write down the things you have to do for each of the coming holidays. You can always add to this list later on. 

Having the list with you at all times can help to take the stress and anxiety off your mind and body and put it down on paper. When you see the list, you can pick one thing at a time to get done, so you aren’t trying to remember and do everything all at once. Marking the things off your list can help you to feel more encouragement, confidence and achievement, too. 

Deep Breathing Exercises 

There are a variety of deep breathing exercises that you can do to help destress around the holidays. Out of all the holiday coping skills, this one might be one of the most important. When you take a deep breath, you allow your body a moment to relax, recover, rest and reset. All these things are needed when you are trying to maintain your recovery from a mental health disorder and/or addiction. By allowing your body this time, you are also reducing the chances that you will slip back into your old ways. 

Not sure how to do deep breathing exercises? Not to worry. You can certainly look up YouTube or other online deep breathing exercise videos, there’s lots of them out there. Search YouTube for pranayama, for one example of an effective deep breathing exercise. If you need to get professional help, our Emerald Coast Journey Pure team can help teach you some of the best deep breathing exercises, as well. 

Distractions Could Help

Sometimes, the stress and anxiety of the holidays cause chaos in a person’s life and could cause them to relapse. On the other hand, if you don’t have a lot to do around the holidays, the boredom could cause you to relapse, as well. If this is the case for you right now, it may help to distract yourself with volunteer or community work. Maybe, you could hand out food at the local food shelter or volunteer at a senior citizen center on Thanksgiving. Choose distractions that are going to bring you happiness and joy this holiday season. 

Going for a Brisk Walk 

Research shows that one of the best holiday coping skills is taking a brisk walk. There is something that happens within the body and the brain when people walk at a brisk pace. Their heart rate speeds up, stress hormones lower, endorphins (feel-good chemicals) rise and their overall mood improve, too. 

If you are struggling around this holiday season, make some time in your day to take a brisk walk. Maybe, you can take one in the morning, afternoon and evening. It can be a short one or a long one – whatever works for you. 

Using All Your Senses 

Want a creative way to destress or refocus around the holidays? From all the holiday coping skills we have for you, using all your senses is the most creative. There are so many ways that you can use your senses to destress, unwind, relax and refocus. Some of the things that you can do include:

  • Bake cookies and enjoy the scent of them throughout the baking process
  • Step outside to smell the Autumn or winter air
  • Touch the rainy mist as it falls from the sky
  • Taste a variety of food at your family’s Thanksgiving and take the time to enjoy each flavor
  • Light some candles that are scented around the holiday spirit 
  • Listen to holiday music that makes you feel good and induces nostalgia
  • Use your eyes to see how the world changes around you during this holiday season

Using all your senses keeps your entire brain and body active during the holidays. The more things you can be a part of and enjoy, the less likely you will be to feel stressed or anxious. 

Get Mental Health and/or Addiction Treatment Today

Have you used these holiday coping skills, but still had a relapse or need more help before you relapse? Don’t worry. You aren’t alone in this fight. You can get mental health and/or addiction treatment right here at our Emerald Coast Journey Pure Recovery Center by calling us at (877) 958-5354 anytime, day or night. We’re here to help. 


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