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Let’s face it, sometimes the holidays aren’t always a time for fun and celebration. They can be a time of increased depression because we are alone, or they can be filled with anxiety because we have to be around family or people we don’t always get along with. Regardless of which category may apply to you, here are a few simple tips that will help anyone get through the holidays with a little more joy than they may have experienced before:

    1) Use those coping skills!
    Remember those things that you’ve talked about with your therapist, friends or have come up with for yourself? USE THEM! Now is the time. Meditate, breathe, exercise, get good sleep, eat well, journal, reach out to people instead of isolating yourself… whatever the tools are that you reach for, make sure you are using them even when you are feeling fine.

    2) Maintain boundaries.
    Just because we may have to be around people that increase our depression or anxiety symptoms, it does not mean that we have to allow them to take up space in our lives that we’ve created boundaries around. Need to leave the room for 10 minutes for a breather? Do it! Need to set a boundary that you are leaving at a certain time so that you don’t get pushed to staying later than you really want? SET IT!

    3) Show up well for yourself.
    We all know that we cannot control the actions or behaviors of others—but we can control ourselves. Be mindful and aware of changes in your own behaviors or ways of reacting to others, and stop those things from happening before they get out of hand. Show up for yourself the way that you want others to show up for you. You’ll feel much better about yourself.

    4) Remember the good in other people.
    This is a tip I heard from someone else that I thought was so good. Take some time and really think about one good memory or quality that you can appreciate about that family member who makes you feel instantly anxious. When we have one good thing to reference, it can help us in those moments when they say the ONE thing that they know will cause your blood to boil.

    5) Start your goals now!
    Don’t wait for January 1st to change your diet. Or go for the big dream. Or hit the gym. Or train for that marathon. Or invest in your mental health. Whatever the goals and dreams are for 2019, start now. When we start on that positive path sooner, it only means that we will roll into 2019 more on fire for ourselves and for lives.

I challenge you to take action today. Right now. Get in a quiet space, grab a piece of paper, and think. Write those coping skills down, visualize how you want to show up during the holidays, start thinking about those positive qualities you can reach for in negative people, and start working toward your goals today.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

*Gina Carlino is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Thriveworks Bastrop and North Lamar. She works primarily with those who need support after they, or someone in their family, is given a dual diagnosis or is struggling with addiction.

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