Surviving the Holidays Without Losing Your Sh*t!

It’s not always the season of peace and joy. But there are ways to sail through it and even feel good! Check out the tools and tips in this holiday webinar:

Hello, everybody, welcome to Hello Trauma’s presentation of surviving the holidays without losing your… 

Yes, yes, it’s that time of year! This can be a great time of year, it can be a terrible time of year, or it can be a complete mix, depending on the people in your life. 

So we all know this: there are people we love that we sometimes get to see at the holidays, there are people that we miss terribly at the holidays. And then there are people who trigger us and bring up all kinds of feelings during the holiday season. 

There can be work events, family events, and your own personal reflection that can just really make us sit with a lot of uncomfortable things this time of year. So how do we deal with that? Let’s take a look. 

First of all, it can be overwhelming, right? This may be how we feel. I figured [this photo of someone looking crazily into the sky with a gift bow on their head] was a great representation of how a lot of us can feel this time of year. Where do we begin? 

You know, we have this big holiday signs of the holidays, right? Stamped on our forehead. We know it’s there. We don’t necessarily want to acknowledge the holidays, maybe, but they’re there and we have to deal with it. How do we begin? 

So we keep it simple. We start at the beginning. 

Three things, there are things we have control over. There are things we don’t have control over. And then there is that wisdom to know the difference in each situation. This is not this is not rocket science. Right? Which is great. This is the simplicity. This is eternal wisdom of the ages: what we have control over what we don’t have control over and knowing the difference. So how does that break down? 

Let’s look first at the things we have control over our own actions. The things we do, the things we say, the choices we make. These are the conscious choices, our habits, our routines. We have coffee every morning, we kind of have control over that kind of thing, right? What are the other habits and routines that we can look at and really use to support our own selves this time of year?

And our thoughts, this can be hard because sometimes it feels like that, it feels like the thoughts are thinking us. But when we step back, we can choose our own thoughts too, which I think is a pretty amazing way of looking at things. So let’s dive in a little deeper to each area here our actions. 

First and foremost, we can move our body. And this I think is a really important go-to for people. Now we are not all going to look like a super athlete, I am not a super athlete, I like to go to the gym and spend about 15 minutes on the elliptical and 15 minutes lifting weights on the machines there. I don’t even know what numbers I use on the different machines, I’m there to move my body. Sometimes I dance in the kitchen, what works for you what can get you to move. 

And I don’t mean like if you like forcing yourself to move, as if, let’s say you have an occupation where you have to move a lot or you’re helping a friend move furniture or something. But I mean like the joy of moving for the joy of moving. Going for a walk outside. Breathing in the fresh air. These are things that can get us out of our head and out of that emotional spiral and into our bodies, which is where we will find the relief actually that we are seeking. 

We can connect with somebody. OK, so I don’t mean, you know, talking to the people that you’re obligated to talk to during the holiday season. This is about connecting to people you like. This person here is smiling and seems very happy while she’s talking to somebody; this is because, presumably, she likes the person she’s talking to and she is feeling happy and connected talking to this person. We talk to people that we like and we feel better. That is an action that we definitely have control over. 

And this third picture symbolizes gratitude. So blank piece of paper, holiday cards. If you write holiday cards to the people, you love holiday messages to the people you care about the ones who bring you joy, even if it’s one person, even if you write a holiday card to one person. That act of gratitude will make you feel better and you can do this this is something you have control over so to revisit, we move our bodies we can connect with people we love about we connect with people we love and care about. 

And we express gratitude to people again with people we care about, or even to ourselves, we can write a gratitude letter to ourselves, I am grateful for, you know, my heart beating warm every day, just the simple things. I am grateful for the sun outside, I am grateful for my morning cup of coffee, anything any symbol gratitude, animals, pets, those are things we’re all grateful for too, in many ways. 

Now diving into more things, so we still have control over our habits and our routines, these may take a little more focus, because because their routine, right because their habits, but let’s look at sleep. How is your sleep habit this time of year, we want to rely on good habits to help us feel good. So get your sleep. Miss Kitty here shows a fine example of how we should approach sleep in my opinion. I think she she has a very decisive approach. She’s going to be under this specific blanket with these pillows, and she’s going to cover her eyes. And it is a very deliberate and intentional approach to sleep. And that’s a great habit to have when we’re going through an emotional roller coaster. 

Vitamins, food: food provides vitamins, so aim for healthy food choices. We all get cookies and cakes handed to us this time of year. You don’t have to say no to everything. It’s a matter of balance and making sure you get good foods so that you simply feel better. And when you make a conscious choice to choose healthy foods as well, you will feel better. 

And drinking water: again, we want to support ourselves in ways that we can. The choices, the habits, the routines that we fall into — keep them healthy, and we will feel better. 

And next: healthy and happy hobbies. Music, dance, or maybe bowling is your happy place. Knitting and crocheting, painting, art: whatever it is that makes you happy, that feeds your soul. Curling up with a good book. What are the habits and hobbies that make you happy? So we turn to these when times are stressful this holiday season or any time of the year. Our sleep, our food and vitamins, and our healthy and happy hobbies. 

Next up, we have thoughts, right? This can take a little more effort. The things that come to mind this time of year with thoughts is, for example, expectations. “This is how I picture my Thanksgiving dinner should look every year.” Reality is not even close. But that’s my expectation. That’s a thought in my mind. I check that expectation. And I say that’s a lovely idea. But let’s embrace reality. 

Again, I would love to be the perfect housewife with no dust bunnies in any corner and the china set perfectly in the china cabinet, wearing high heels and a dress in my home every day. I typically wear, you know, flannel. I want to stay warm and comfortable. But there’s that ideal — so many of us have this these ideals of what we should be: we should be the perfect host the perfect hostess. The perfect entertainer. And in reality, the value we bring to others is our true self. So checking those thoughts? It’s important. 

And then of course, the picture-perfect family. This one is tough because our families generally all look so different and so unique. But when we want everything to look Instagram perfect, it’s time to check those thoughts. We can control these thoughts. What is normal is that our families these days are so diverse, so unique, and need to truly be embraced for the way they are. So let’s check our thoughts: we have control over looking at expectations, looking at the way we think we should be, looking at what we think the norm is. Revisit these thoughts on a regular basis and know that everybody else is doing the same thing. 

They’re having their own expectations, putting their own “should’s” out there, or what the norm is, and we all need to revisit these, and say , things are good as as they are. Going back to gratitude: What am I grateful for? I have my unconventional turkey–not even turkey, my unconventional Thanksgiving dinner, you know– I have my non-traditional family setup. I don’t even know what traditional is anymore. 

And we can think about these things in a new way: how much we love and appreciate what we have. 

So what about the things we don’t have control over? This can get tricky, but it’s so important to visit, we can’t control what other people do or say, right? The words are just going to come out of their mouth, and they’re just going to enter our ears. And that is what is going to happen. 

We are going to have feelings, they will come up in our body, we can’t say hey, feeling go away. Or you can try, but not advised, let’s let’s put it that way! They’re just going to come up. No matter what, feelings will come up. And some of them are going to kind of not be fun. And we’re going to have instantaneous reactions, right? 

Somebody slams the door, we’re probably going to jump. Somebody scares us, we’re gonna get surprised. Again, this is what our body does on its own. And, you know, we we react, we react. There’s an instantaneous reaction that is built into our bodies so that we survive, you know, thousands of years of evolution. 

And changing that — expecting we can just change that in an instant — isn’t realistic. So we start to look at what we don’t have control over. 

Jumping more into what people do or say: this includes gifts: they give us gifts, we may give them gifts that everybody gives in a public venue, which is really can be really triggering (like a Yankee swap or holiday work party). And all of a sudden now there’s comparisons of who gave what to whom. 

What other people plan, right: they plan an event, they don’t invite you. Oh, that hurts. And again, what they say: that water hose effect, you know? You go to a family reunion, a gathering, a large family gathering. You see these people once a year, and you get the annual speech on how you should run your life, according to, you know, your second-cousin-twice-removed ex wife’s fiance’s best friend. It happens, right? 

Let’s notice what we don’t have control over again: the gifts people give us, plans people make, things other people say. 

When it comes to our feelings, we might feel happy. You know, you might feel sad. Or we might feel like we want to disappear into a ball of nothingness. We might get really angry. But we don’t have control over how those feelings come up in that moment. They are what they are. 

How our body responds instantaneously, right? It can go into what we call the “fight-or-flight” mode. Somebody says something, we’re ready to attack them or, or we’re like, get me out of here. I’m freaking out. Or we don’t know what to do and we go into that freeze state, like a deer in the headlights. Like, what just happened? How do I even handle this? And there’s like panic and, and fear, all these mixed up feelings. Or maybe there’s a shutdown response, you just want to disappear. 

You feel so embarrassed. Somebody said something and you’re like, “Oh, my goodness, that was so painful. I just need to get out of here and not exist.” We can’t control these things. They’re part of our our body’s survival mechanism. And we begin to work with them over time. But in this moment, in this holiday season, the chances of you jumping in and fixing any of your instantaneous responses that have been there for you know, thousands of years, millions of years, keeping us alive as part of our nervous system’s development. We need to work with these as they are. So what is the answer then? Especially to those things we can’t control? Oh, yes.

That wisdom. The wisdom to know the difference. Accepting reality. Yeah, we could sit with that one for a very long meditative experience: allowing your feelings. This is an ongoing practice. Feelings come up. Can I allow this to simply be. Accessing your inner calm: this is a practice. It looks a little bit like the the meditative practice here perhaps where you’re working with yourself to attain inner calm. 

And on that note, there are ways that you can work with your body, not against it, to help you sail through the holiday season. 

Today, I’m going to give you three exercises, three simple ways that you can start to take ownership of the way that your body automatically responds to the triggers that come up. 

When you are triggered by an event, you don’t have control over something somebody says — again, a gift somebody gives you — you can’t control the event, but you can begin to work with your body to help control how you respond. These are exercises that I teach all the time and three of them here that you can take with you and use it any holiday event, any holiday gathering, any dinner table, and they will help you in the moment. Practicing them over time will help you even more over time. 

The first exercise is called belly breathing. And this is really the basis of all the exercises that I teach that are calming to your body and nervous system. 

For belly breathing, we go all the way back to the basics, way back to when we were just a baby, right. So when you were a baby, you were born doing belly breathing, that is how you you are breathing as a baby. This is how all babies breathe. When you inhale during a belly breath, your belly expands. And when you exhale, your belly comes back in. 

We often breathe backwards in our society, in our culture. We often breathe in and pull the stomach in and puff the chest out and bring the shoulders up. 

And then we breathe out and the belly goes out and our shoulders kind of collapse. Right? It’s backwards. 

What we ideally do is, we sit tall, our shoulders stay relaxed, we breathe in and our belly expands, we breathe out and the belly goes in. We start with the simple breathing exercises. Belly out, exhale, belly in. Just try a few of these on your own. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy or anxious, and the anxiety is getting worse or anything like that, stop doing this exercise. This is for your own well being, so judge yourself as to what feels right. But if this is feeling good for you, do a few of these breaths. 

And they are not always easy! If you’re having a hard time with them, after you watch this video, go stand against a wall — or pause this right now go stand against a wall — and try belly breathing while you’re standing against the wall. You’ll get a better sense of where your back and shoulders are and your belly will more easily go out. Or try it lying down. That’s an almost foolproof way of practicing belly breathing. 

So that’s the basics of breathing. You’re stressed out at the dinner table. Put down the fork for a minute and do some belly breaths. Nobody will notice or mind at all. 

Once you have the belly breathing part down, you can move on to an exercise called 4-7-8 breathing. This is where this is a breathing exercise that will slow down your body and slow down your nervous system when you’re doing it really mindfully. So this is all about again, the breath. And the way that it works is that you breathe in for four counts. You hold it for seven counts, and you exhale for eight counts. It can sound again simple, but it can be difficult in practice. 

Generally speaking, if you’d like to try this again, this is at your own pace your comfort level. It can be a simple helpful exercise. Get nice and relaxed, take in a  couple belly breaths in first. 

  • Inhale for three
  • Hold it for seven
  • Exhale for eight.

Stop there. Alright? How easy or how difficult was that? 

If it’s difficult, you’re not alone. But it’s something you can try again, and gets easier with practice. And it can be really effective once you’re comfortable with it. So try this one before you’re in a stressful situation, and see if you can then use it while you’re in a stressful situation. 

All right, so that’s one to kind of tuck in your pocket for later on. And this next one–super simple, really easy, really effective. This one is just counting your toes. 

But you’re not doing this quickly. It’s not a fast thing. This is being mindful and being fully aware of your toes, quite frankly, right? How much, how often do we think about our toes? 

So this one, again–you know, holiday party, anxiety kicking in–see if you can sit with this exercise:

  • Start with your right foot and put your attention on your right pinky toe. That’s it, just think about it. 
  • Now, move your attention up to your right ring toe so the toe right next to it. 
  • Bring your awareness to your right middle toe. 
  • Next, think about your right index toe. 
  • And now you’re right big toe. 
  • Move on to your left big toe. 
  • Your left index toe. 
  • Your left middle toe. 
  • Your left ring toe, 
  • And your left pinky toe. 
  • Deep breath. 
  • Right here, your attention back to the present moment. Do you notice any difference from when you started this exercise? It’s so simple, it almost sounds silly. But it can be really effective. One of my favorite ones. 

So these are all my go-to’s on a regular basis. There are many, many more exercises like this. And we each have ones that work for us. 

Take these tools, bring them to your holiday gatherings, and use them.

Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other. Thank you!,

Overwhelmed to On Fire

How much would you give to sit across from someone who knows exactly what it’s like living every day with the overwhelm, anxiety, brain fog, frustration, and other effects of complex trauma–but has found their way out, to inner freedom, deep peace, and true joy?

Well, for anyone serious about living a richer, more rewarding life, the price would be quite high and worth every penny. But for a short time, for a small number of people, I’m offering that opportunity… without charge.
That’s right, with my Overwhelmed to On Fire call, you have the chance to work with me one on one, absolutely free.

Because I hold these calls personally, there are very few spots available, so if you’re serious about changing your life and would like the guidance and support of someone who has been in the trenches, worked their way out, and now successfully helps others do the same, use the calendar provided to apply for your session now.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.