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  • The Play Therapist

Surviving the Holidays

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Survivng the holidays

There is a great amount of excitement and anxiety about this holiday season when our expectations of self and others are running high. It is at this time of the year when we are especially anxious to meet our family's expectations and our own self imposed ones. Here are some suggestions of how we could try and survive our holidays.

Tip #1: Self-Care

Self-Compassion Break (Meditation)

It is often easy to overlook ourselves as we rush to provide a memorable experience for our children, our family and friends because 'tis the season of cheer'. It is at this time, providing ourselves with self-care is essential. Research shows that nurturing ourselves positively affects those around us, improves our mental and physical health, and enables us to be present to others.

Here are some suggestions for moments where we can extend self-care. We can:

  • Carve out several 5 minute slots in the day for ourselves and schedule everything else around e.g., taking an extra 5 minutes to enjoy an activity, e.g. a warm bath.

  • Decline an invite to an event we are not excited about.

  • Have regular exercise/stretch breaks.

  • Set our alarms to ring at a certain time daily as a reminder to breathe and take a minute to refocus.

  • Pay attention to what we are saying to ourselves, and to include kind statements by acknowledging the present emotion -

It's ok to feel this way. May I learn to let go.

Clicking on the heart image above, will take you to a self-compassion exercise

  • Give ourselves permission to have what we need.

  • Remember what is truly important that goes beyond the holiday season.​

Tips #2: Acknowledge, Communicate, Target

Acknowledge Communicate Target

Sometimes it is hard for our children to verbalise their emotions, and this may come across in 'acting out' or crankiness. Give your child an opportunity to share what they are feeling by:

Acknowledging: Say, 'Sometimes having so much going on can be stressful.'

Communicating: Say, 'I wonder if you are feeling frazzled by something.'

Targeting: Say, 'I wonder what we can do together to help you feel better ...'

Learn more about Acknowledge, Communicate, Target in my Cultivating Self-Confidence and Grit post.

Tips #3, 4 & 5: Realistic expectations,

Start a family tradition & Good deeds

Dr. Christine Carter explains these three tips.

More tips in these articles:

Some stories to share with our children:

The Trees of the Dancing Goats (

The Trees of the Dancing Goats

by Patricia Polacco

This is a heartwarming story about friendship and being a good neighbour. It celebrates our common humanity.

The Trouble with Trolls (

The Trouble with Trolls

Triva uses her character strengths to outwit the trolls from taking her dog.

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (

Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree

by Robert E. Barry

A story about a big pine tree that manages to bring joy into many homes through the thoughtfulness of others.

The Mitten (

The Mitten

A Ukranian folktale where one little mitten provides shelter from the Winter cold to a group of animals.

Monty the Penguin

May you be happy.

May you be peaceful.

May you be free from suffering.

Have a safe and meaningful winter holiday!

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