It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or is it? While the festive break can represent joy, gratitude and togetherness, it can also be associated with family and financial pressure, loneliness, anxiety and tension. Even if you look forward to the holidays, it’s normal to experience periods of stress or difficulty, especially if your soldier is away. We teamed up with Dr Ben Locke, Chief Clinical Officer of the mental health charity, Togetherall to get some top tips on how to cope…

If you find yourself experiencing mixed emotions, worries, or even real distress over the holidays, it’s okay not to be okay and reach out for support when you need it.

The holidays may cause a mixture of complicated situations and emotions, such as family and relationship conflict, anxiety around relationships, worries about food, coping with grief, or feeling that everyone else is having a great time and you’re missing out. All these feelings are valid, and you’re not alone.

Don’t wing it – come up with a plan to feel better and take control:

  1. Write down the days you’ll be surrounded by people or have a lot going on. Think through the days that might be tough and identify when you’ll need extra support or breaks.
  2. Identify the people and resources you want to use for support. Talk to these people beforehand or investigate resources and define strategies for coping.
  3. Set your intentions: Whether it’s sleep, how you eat, how much you drink, where exercise plays a role, or whether you engage in certain conversations, set your intentions in advance so you can feel in control in the moment.

Take time to develop a list of coping skills that work for you:

  • Take time to get support from people who understand your experiences. Get ideas or create your own group of friends to support each other during the holiday season.
  • Take a nap.
  • Go for a walk alone in a favourite location or walk with someone who helps you feel better.
  • Plan to meditate in a way that works for you and will help you to feel calm and gain perspective.

Remember to allow yourself to be in the moment

Rather than comparing your experiences, feelings and relationships to others, allow yourself to be present in your life without judgement. Be realistic about the holidays and plan ahead if you think you might experience complicated emotions.

If you feel like you need a safe space to talk with others who understand, try Togetherall; a free, safe anonymous online community where you can give and get support from others – togetherall.com

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