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Surviving the Holidays: 5 Tips for managing emotional triggers

5 Tips for Managing Triggers During the Holidays

holidays stress Nov 22, 2021

Do the holidays leave you feeling scared? Overwhelmed? Feeling out of control of behaviors and thoughts you’d LONG since thought you’d conquered?

For anyone with a stressful job, and overloaded to-do list or a family history that has left them with some wounds, the demands and people associated with the holidays can be triggering. One minute, we’re taking care of ourselves and making progress… the next we’re drowning in anxiety, disordered eating, excuses, or feelings of helplessness and resentment.

I’ve often found myself prone to eating (or skipping meals) mindlessly, resorting to old thinking patterns, skipping workouts or any of the myriad ways we can sabotage ourselves in the name of surviving the holidays. Slowly, I started to build out a tool box … just easy ways I could disarm my internal explosions before they happened or manage them once they’d gone off.

It’s a process of trial and error. But your internal tripwires don’t define you – and there are easy choices you can make to keep your tripwires intact.


5 Tips for Managing Behaviors, Emotions and Thoughts During the Holidays


1. Use bathroom breaks to your advantage. We all have to pee, right!? There’s no easier way to step away from a situation than to simply excuse yourself to use the bathroom. Once you’re there… Sit down. Take 3-5 mindful breaths and move around a little, circling your ankles and shoulders and wrists. Rinse your hands or neck and face with some cool or warm water. Remind yourself of three words that help you feel how you’d like to feel walking back into the situation. (Don’t forget to flush to make it seem legit, ha!)


2. Take a walk. Just down the hallway, around the house or down the block if you can get away. If it’s a difficult situation to break out of, “needing something from your car/needing to check on something” (like sanity!) can be useful. While you walk, breathe on purpose, shake out your arms and legs, notice the sounds / sights / smells around you and feel your feet hitting the ground. Remind yourself of your values, your purpose and your goals.


3. Manage your blood sugar / nutrients. Make sure you pack your supplements and nutrient-dense snacks. Be sure to eat some protein, fat and carbohydrate every 2-4 hours and eat to physical comfort levels, not to “should” levels. Skipping meals to “make room” and manage calories, or doubling down on foods in a scarcity mindset will create blood sugar highs and lows that can feel strikingly similar to emotional states.


4. Move at least a little bit every day. Not necessarily to burn calories or whatever. But move to connect to your body, to clear out the gunk, to feel empowered, and to help your breathing and your gut have a better conversation with the experiences you’re having. Set aside whatever little bits of time you can, or recruit someone to go take a class / take a walk with you. I really suggest getting your heart rate elevated for at least 10 minutes for the endorphins and cortisol management, but every little bit counts.


5. Tap into your resources. You don’t have to be the “rugged individual!” Use meditation apps to help soothe and regulate sleep. Set alarms on your phone to remind you of self care practices. (Note: alarms with the right ring tone sound like a phone call that needs you to step into the extra bedroom alone for a few minutes. Just saying.) Text friends or professionals who are available for safe vulnerability. You’re not in this alone.


May you have joy, connection and love this holiday season. May you feel free from fear of old patterns. May you be strong AF and peaceful like never before.


Here's to a nourishing holiday season - 


Annie and The Forest Coaching Team




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