Ah…. rule number one – look after yourself and put strategies in place to de-stress.
When the festive season arrives, so can the time for more family visits and social gatherings. And… challenging emotions can arise when we’re faced with ‘certain’ people: They just seem to know precisely what to say or do to press that red hot button!
Feelings such as anger, hurt, sadness, fear, guilt and shame can be difficult to deal with. And the things we do to manage these emotions can sometimes be more harmful or damaging to us and to our relationships, eg drinking, over or under eating, withdrawing, getting into arguments and conflict, or using other substances.
Try a different approach this year! With these tips, have a plan up your sleeve so you know what you’re going to do when you’re facing challenging emotions:
1. Be prepared
2. Take action in the moment when those challenging emotions arise
1. Be prepared: When we’re not looking after our bodies, we’re more vulnerable to emotional upheavals.
To help become more emotionally stable for the weeks leading up to as well as during the silly season, ensure to:
• Treat any physical illness: Make sure you’ve seen the GP or your health practitioner for health issues. There’s nothing like pain in the body to makes us more sensitive and emotional.
• Be sure to eat well! Get a balance of all the good nutrients into you. And be mindful of not over or under-eating.
• Avoid excessive drinking or taking non-prescribed drugs. Hangovers and all the ugly feelings that come after taking substances make us more vulnerable and emotional.
• Sleep: Be sure to get your 8-10 hours sleep. You may wish to speak to our practitioners at LWCHC to get some help with this.
• Exercise: Nature’s best anti-depressant. Clear your head, release stress and build up your feel-good hormones with exercise.
• Know your reproductive cycle: If you’re aware of your cycle, eg PMS, you can be aware of times when you may be more sensitive or irritable. By knowing this in advance, you may be more tolerant to external upsets.
2. Take action in the moment with these tips:
• Mindfulness of your emotions: Sit with your feelings 100%: even your most uncomfortable of them! Observe them in your body. Notice all the sensations that comes with the feeling. Welcome them. Breathe deeply into them. After 20 minutes or so, the emotion will subside. Ride your emotion like a wave!
• Mindfulness with your senses: Use your five senses to become absorbed in an activity, eg Find a chocolate. Unwrap it. Observe the colour and texture of the wrapping (pink/crunchy). Smell it. Place the chocolate in your mouth and notice the tastes and sensations. Or, you may wish to go outside and label five objects that you see outside. This is a great way to briefly help you be distracted from what’s going on around you.
Have a portable ‘self-soothing kit’ with you in your handbag – a picture of a peaceful location, some memorabilia given to you from a friend, Lavender oil to smell or rub onto your hand, a beautiful poem, your mp3 player or phone set with your favourite happy music.
Take some deep breaths down into your belly… when you breathe in say: ‘I am’; breathe out say: ‘ok’. Do this 10 times.
Take time-out – excuse yourself and go to the bathroom/ or go outside for a walk. Shake it out.
May you triumph over those tricky emotions this festive season!
(Adopted from Marsha Linehan’s DBT Skills.)