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Getting Ahead of the Holidays

The holidays can be tough - let’s think about ways to be prepared emotionally and mentally. Many of you have been through the ups and downs of summer-based holidays as well as the literal heat of summer depending on where you’re reading this MMHM from. As the summer has already turned into autumn, I am highly aware that the upcoming holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah can bring both joy and anxiety. Here are tips to think about in the coming weeks to make these holidays feel more manageable:

  • Just because the holidays have their own timeline, your routines don’t have to change - Remember you can make choices on how to manage your time. You can keep your day-to-day routine the same whether it’s when you work, when you sleep and what things you eat and drink. When someone offers something off schedule or off routine, you’re welcome to stick to that glass of water, your usual bedtime or break you set for yourself during the day. Also be careful to not let your emotions dictate what you say or do with your body - when distressed we can easily over/under eat/drink/exercise. When your feelings are distracting you do the next listed step below…

  • Make time for yourself by doing things that feel good - You are always welcome to step away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. That can mean making sure you literally rest such as take a nap, listen to a favorite playlist or podcast, take a walk to recalibrate emotionally/mentally or make alone time for yourself in a way that feels contained and recharging.

  • Take stock of your time with a list/schedule - The holidays can be demanding. Rather than let the holidays take advantage of us, let’s make a list of what needs to be done and review to see if the schedule/tasks noted are simple and reasonable. We can always edit the events at hand even if it means we arrive later to a party, cancel an activity or move an errand to later in the week. Sometimes tasks can be done and delivered through an online order or the gift can be easier found in store ahead of time.

  • Be aware of your finances - A factor that can be easily overlooked is the cost denominator. The holidays can easily lead us to spend money that doesn’t fit our situation. When worrying about money, reflect on the event, who it’s for, whether it fits our financial situation and the true meaning of the holiday invested in. In lieu of something expensive or lavish, can we reframe the season with a thoughtful note or card, our presence instead of a present or a simple/home-made item instead of something store bought?

Regardless of the challenges of a given holiday, remember that the holidays and emotions associated with it are short-term so take a breath, be patient with yourself and utilize your supports like friends/family/therapist in the days ahead to get ahead of the holidays.

The holidays are also a time to think about giving. This month Looking Glass Counseling is making a donation to Respond, Inc. Respond is a Somerville, MA based organization that partners with individuals, families and communities to end the serious public health issue of domestic violence. RESPOND strives to achieve its mission through prevention, intervention and education services that promote safe, healthy relationships. Safe, healthy relationships are at the heart of the holidays.


Lou Lim, LMHC, REAT is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.

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