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Taking on your feelings (all of them) during the holiday season

By Susan Damico, Director. Devereux Center for Resilient Children

The holiday season is here.

For many, this time of year may generate feelings of excitement, joy and happiness while, for others, it might elicit feelings of anxiety, anger, regret or disappointment.

At the Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC), we are highlighting the importance of recognizing and labeling our feelings, with the understanding that ALL feelings are OK. As we seek to find ways to enjoy the holiday season, or at least to do our best to find healthy ways to navigate this time of the year (no matter which, if any, holidays you may celebrate), the DCRC team offers the following tips.

  1. Take Self-compassion Breaks: If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or sad, it is important to pause, reflect and recognize these difficult feelings. Negative feelings are part of life and learning to find healthy coping mechanisms starts with recognizing these feelings, being gentle and kind to ourselves as we sit with these feelings, and then taking healthy action steps to manage the feelings.

    Watch this video: We invite you to watch this brief video as Nefertiti Poyner, Ed.D., DCRC early childhood specialist and national trainer, takes us through the practice of a self-compassion break

    Resource: The Greater Good Science Center also offers the steps, including the research behind this practice in this document.

  2. Accept ALL Feelings: How often do we find ourselves answering the question, “How are you?” with, “I am fine.” As we prepare for holiday gatherings – and for this potential question coming our way – take time to pause and reflect on your true feelings, or review a feelings wheel to consider this question more deeply. While it may feel awkward, at first, to respond with a more accurate and/or truthful answer, it provides an opportunity for deeper relationship-building and more authentic connections. If you are experiencing feelings of joy and gratitude, what a gift to share these positive feelings with friends and family! If you are experiencing feelings of sadness or grief, friends and family have an opportunity to show compassion, and to be a shoulder you can lean on.

    Watch this video: In this video, originally intended for Devereux employees, Dr. Poyner offers strategies to help address our feelings when we don’t feel OK, and to celebrate when things go our way.

  3. Don’t FLIP Out, FLIP IT! How many of us can remember holidays when we felt overwhelmed, stressed and pulled in too many directions? Often, these feelings can lead to behaviors we later regret – lashing out, raising our voices, or simply choosing to avoid holiday gatherings. The FLIP IT strategy offers a different way to respond to stressful situations. FLIP IT’s four steps (embodied in the FLIP mnemonic) include F – Feelings, L – Limits, I – Inquiries and P – Prompts.

    Watch this video: Rachel Wagner, MSW, FLIP IT author and DCRC early childhood mental health specialist and national trainer, take us through this simple, kind, strength-based, commonsense process in this video.

Remember: It is important to take care of yourself during the holidays. It is also OK to not be OK. But it’s what you do with those challenging feelings, and how you cope with them, that can make all the difference.

Learn more about the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, and learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.


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