If the holidays are a trigger for you, you are not alone! Between all the food, cold weather, family time, and increased drinking, who doesn't it trigger? Here is the thing about triggers: triggers are when a button in your brain is pushed to replay some old, not-so-fun memories stored in your brain. That button will be pressed when you eat more cookies than normal, and your pants are a little tighter. Suddenly, the fun of holidays turns into anxiety about how much weight you might be gaining if you don't pull it together, and oh my gosh, if I continue like this, I will gain 100 pounds before New Year's. Sound familiar? Or just me?
Although we cannot necessarily control when we are triggered, we can control our response to these holiday triggers by planning. I like to call this a “chill-out plan.” This is a little reminder that you keep in your journal, on your phone, on a post-it in your bathroom, or wherever you can easily access when you are feeling triggered. This is important to do because when we are in it, and I mean really in it (I mean, come on, we're talking about the holidays), it is hard to get level-headed when we are extremely anxious, triggered state.
In this plan, there are three things you want to address
01. What you know for sure triggers you
What do you already know about your holiday triggers? (For example, conversations with your grandparents or eating a cinnamon roll for breakfast on Christmas morning)
By getting this down ahead of time, you can be extra prepared for things that will inevitably happen.
02. What you can do when you are feeling negative emotions
When feeling down or anxious, it is tough to think of ways to pull yourself out of it when you are already there. Especially during the holidays because sometimes they can feel never-ending. Making a list of things you can do ahead of time to reference when you're facing holiday triggers makes it much more likely that you will be able to make yourself feel better.
03. Who to call if your coping skills aren't working
Sometimes our emotions are stronger than our skills, and that is okay! When this happens, though, who can you call? Who will be there for you during these times? Whether it is a co-worker, a good friend, a social media friend, a support group member, or whoever you can get ahold of! Make a list ahead of time so you know exactly who to call and you have their information.
And I know you might be thinking – Ryann, it is not even Halloween yet; why are you talking about holiday triggers? Because life moves so quickly, and when we are prepared for all the triggers that come with the holidays before they happen, they are much easier to overcome! The holidays are a time to enjoy, appreciate, and be grateful. It is a beautiful time of year when we get to have a little extra time with our loved ones and eat foods that we do not always eat, and I want you to enjoy every minute of it!