The “safe bubble” point above is a tremendous example of this! Even when holiday cheer is being forced upon us, we have the right to say no. We have the right to have needs that we communicate.
We have the right to get curious about the most sustainable ways for us to spend our time throughout this season.
Again, our loved ones may require being taught (whether indirectly through modeling or directly through communicated rules/beliefs/norms) to respect our boundaries.
Therapeutic Tool 4. Find An Ally Within Your Holiday Communities
Whether you spend time with your family of origin, your chosen family, or both, being in a larger group can oftentimes feel overwhelming.
It’s not always the case that we feel fully safe with every person involved in any given party or dinner dynamics, and that’s also okay.
Choose one closely pre-appointed ally who will also be present in that situation who can essentially be a support system when needed (and this can go both ways).
This might look like having an open conversation with this person beforehand and together creating a “plan B,” or a “time for a bathroom break signal,” or perhaps a safe-word or gesture that means, “I’m feeling super triggered right now, help!”
And, another pre-agreed upon physical way to invite us to physically come out of this trigger (i.e. a hug or a hand squeeze). Please remember here that there is no right or wrong answers, but only what feels most nourishing for your mind-body.
I know for me, having that ally signifies to my system that I’m not alone (even if my anxiety is starting to feel that way).
Tool 5. Remain Connected To Your Body
As a somatic therapist, I’m very passionate about cultivating your awareness of your mind-body connection every month out of the year, but especially throughout times of heightened triggers like the holidays.
Allowing yourself to stay connected to the sensations, emotions, thoughts, feelings, images, and memories that arise is an important act of self care.
When you may notice yourself slipping into a heightened state of overwhelm or freezing into a state of dissociation, tap into your body as a resource. Allow your body to ground you and to be your safe harbor amongst those potentially stormy seas!
No matter which therapeutic tools you use to help yourself throughout this holiday season, allowing yourself to do so creates a new pathway of a tradition for you to cultivate and nurture.
I know it isn’t easy, but I also know that I believe in our human capacity for resilience and wholeheartedly believe in your ability to tap into that!
What therapeutic tools do you use to help yourself through the holidays?