The holidays used to be very hard for me. I worried a lot about them. I was afraid I would be alone and that I would feel discouraged and depressed. Then I decided to be more proactive and make sure I enjoyed the holidays. The first thing I did was make a plan for a day for myself that I would really enjoy following in case no one was available to spend the day with me. This plan included making myself food I love to eat and eating it, listening to holiday music, watching a movie I love, calls to family members who live far away, doing a meditation exercise I enjoy, rereading inspirational poems and a long walk with my dog. Having that plan ready, just in case nothing else worked out, felt really good to me. Once I had that back up plan, I began making plans with others to create the holiday of my dreams. I never did have to use that back up plan but I still have it just in case. -Mary Ellen Copeland
The holiday season for many cultures around the world is upon us. People are celebrating in many ways; however, this time does not always translate to the magical season depicted in the media. Instead, it can be a stress-filled and lonely time. During the holidays, review your WRAP every day and take time to evaluate whether a holiday adaptation would be of benefit. If you know this season has unique triggers, drawing up an action plan ahead of time will help you get through this difficult time and perhaps even make it enjoyable.
One idea is to think of holiday seasons which you have fond memories about. What were they like? Then you can try to re-create some of the good things that happened–inviting the same people, having the same decorations and food, engaging in traditional activities. You could also think about the parts of this season you look forward to and make sure they happen again. Things like cooking certain foods, baking, singing, decorating, or visiting friends and family. Focusing on the positive and using your daily maintenance plan will help keep you on track and avoid feeling rushed.
If you find yourself feeling agitated or lacking energy, early warning signs for some people, use your wellness tools as a resource so that you feel better fast. Your supporters can be really helpful through the holiday season. The following ideas may be helpful:
- Do everything you can to keep yourself well. Make your wellness and yourself a priority, especially through this time that may be stressful for you.
- Support groups can be really helpful through the holidays. Sometimes they plan special events like pot luck dinners or parties if group members are concerned about not having enough to do through the holidays. If you belong to a support group, you may want to suggest special holiday events, and help with the planning and implementation of activities.
- Be mutually supportive. This means being there for others when they need you.
- Exchange listen with your supporters. Set up a regular get together and divide the time in half. The first half of the time one person gets to talk, share, cry, whatever, with the full attention of the other. The second half of the time the roles are reversed.
One positive message that emanates through the holiday season is that of hope. Many people have dealt with various difficult times in their lives, some for many years, and have gotten well and stayed well for long periods of time. So, although you may have sadness in your life or be going through a troublesome time, remember there is hope. Hope that you will feel better, hope that you will enjoy life, hope that this season brings you peace and joy.
Some ideas of holiday related wellness tools might include:
- Using positive self-talk
- Do something nice for yourself
- Volunteering your time and/or services
- Setting time limits to prevent situations from becoming overwhelming
- Know that it’s ok to say “no, thank you”
What are some tools that work for you? Join our Facebook conversation to share your plan and to hear what others are saying.
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.