News flash: The holidays are stressful! Duh! You're gonna need as long an emotional fuse as you can get to manage family, friends, work, shopping, and all the emotions that this time of year can dig up. Here's part one of two, on how to build your emotional resiliency. These suggestions are based on Marsha Linehan's DIalectical Behavior Therapy skills. This set addresses ways to keep your outer warrior (your body) strong so it can protect and serve your inner warrior (your heart and mind).
- Treat physical illness. This is not a time to just suck it up, walk it off, and pretend you're superhuman. If you are physically run down, you are more susceptible to being emotionally run down. So take those vitamins, get lots of water and rest, see the doctor sooner than later.
- Eat moderately and healthfully. If you're on a strict diet or if you're over-indulging on the regular, you will be more likely to have big, overwhelming emotions. No need to feel sluggish and bloated or deprived and hangry on top of other holiday stressors.
- Avoid/limit mood altering substances. Unlike the air traffic controller in "Airplane", the holidays are the EXACT right time to quit sniffing glue! Haha. But seriously, while nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, marijuana may help in the moment, they can keep you from appropriately managing your emotions, give you a false sense of your energy, and leave you more frazzled and less grounded in the long run.
- Get moving. Moderate physical exercise can be a way to distract, unwind, breathe deeply, and release stress. Bonus points if you move in nature, move mindfully, and practice gratitude for your body while you're getting a workout in.
- Get enough sleep. There's a million things to do and not enough time to do it. Trust me, I get it. And, to be able to participate as fully and meaningfully in the activities and not burn out early, sleep is important. Try to get in a routine, focus on sleep hygiene, and prioritize sleep.
You won't/ can't be perfect at all this. That's not even the point. The point is: when possible, be as thoughtful as you can be about protecting (and lengthening, when possible) that emotional fuse.