The speakers at the shopping mall remind you that this is the most wonderful time of the year. The retail ads echo the fact that in order to make your child happy and joyful it is necessary to purchase things that you may not be able to afford. You are missing your cousin, your mom, or maybe even your child who is no longer able to celebrate with you. This time of the year is special but it is not always merry.
As a psychotherapist, I remind my clients to implement extra self-care strategies during the holidays. The pressure to be festive and bright is a complicated request if you are just trying to get through the day without crying. Below are some tips that may be helpful when experiencing different emotions that prove to be overwhelming.
Coping with intense and painful feelings:
Draw, paint or scribble on a large sheet of paper or a canvas with red ink or paint.
Write out your emotions in a notebook or diary.
Make up some poetry or a song to say what you are feeling
Jot down any unhealthy thoughts or feelings and then rip up the paper or shred it
Turn on music that expresses what you are feeling or going through-sing along if you desire
In an effort to calm and soothe yourself:
Soak in a warm bath or take a hot shower
Pet or cuddle with a dog or cat (stuffed animals might be okay too)
Wrap yourself in a warm blanket
Give yourself a neck rub or massage your hands, and feet
Listen to soothing music or sounds
If you are feeling disconnected and numb:
Call a trusted friend
Take a shower with cold water
Hold an ice cube in the crook of your arm or leg
Chew something with a very strong taste, like chili peppers, peppermint, or a grapefruit peel.
Engage in a self-help website or a mental health blog
Do you need to release tension or vent anger:
Participate in physical activity-run, dance, jump rope, or hit a punching bag
Hit a cushion or mattress or scream into your throw pillow
Utilize a stress ball or use Play-Doh or clay
Rip something up (sheets of paper, a magazine)
Make some noise (play an instrument, bang on pots and pans)