Coping Strategies for the Holiday Season

Many clients over the years have disclosed how difficult the holiday season can be.  Many expressed worry about being triggered and relapsing back in to their addiction, they explained how they cannot attended events due to overwhelming anxiety, or they expressed how isolated they feel despite all the activities. As a therapist, I seek to empower my clients to take ownership over their experiences, finding new ways to work through it and deal with uncomfortable situations.  How do they do this? By planning ahead and utilizing simple coping strategies that can be adapted in many ways.  

Below is a list of some coping strategies that clients have used during the holiday season:

  • Be accountable: tell someone your plans (location, time) or better yet, take someone you trust to the event.
  • Limit money availability:  if money is a trigger, pre-plan the amount you’ll need (food/transportation) and bring that amount in cash, leaving debit/credit cards behind. 
  • Time Outs: anxiety/panic attacks can happen at any time, so if you feel one coming on (tightening of chest, shallow breathing, sweating), head to a quiet area (sometimes it’s the bathroom!), and give yourself a 5-minute time out. Breathe deeply, placing feet firmly on the floor. Ground yourself, bringing yourself back to the present moment. 
  • Schedule your time: planning ahead is vital when feeling isolated/lonely. There are many events going on through community and volunteer agencies, and churches. Also calling up a friend or a family member can be a wonderful reminder of the support and love you have in your life.  Being proactive and searching out activities you can do will help lessen the burden of feeling alone; make a list of activities you want to do this season and make it happen! 

Wishing you a healthy and happy Holiday season,

Better Health Clinic

About the author ...

Jordan Smith received her Masters of Social work from the University of Toronto, specializing in both mental health and addictions. Jordan is focused on compassionate, strength-based, and client-centred care all while using a motivational and recovery-orientated approach.