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Jingle bells! Jingle bells! Jingle all the way! When you think of the holidays, what comes to mind? Do you picture house-lined streets decked out with sparkling lights? Or how about big family gatherings with copious amounts of chocolate, treats, and drinks? Do you think about the excitement of giving and receiving gifts, or the sounds of holiday tunes, playing endlessly on the radio?   

Or perhaps you are someone who thinks about the approaching holiday season and is immediately filled with fear, overwhelm or dread. For many people, the holidays can be an incredibly difficult time of year.  For some, it’s a reminder of losing a loved one. For others, it’s a time of heaviness and loneliness, as those without families or many friends may struggle to see others gathering, just as others may find being surrounded by constant friends and family may be triggering. Maybe hearing and seeing these evoke feelings of sadness of alienation, if you don’t celebrate in these ways. And with the  COVID-19 pandemic impacting all of our lives, things will be different, and sometimes different can be hard.  

To help you navigate this season, here are our top 10 tips to survive the holidays. Remember, not everything works for everyone, and that’s okay! It’s about experimenting to find what works for you and doing what we can to get through the next month.  

1) Limit your social media content: Do you find you play the comparison game when you see your friends and family members together? What about all those couple photos? Do these images leave you feeling lonely, sad or fearful? It’s okay to take a break from social media sites such as Instagram or Facebook or limit your time on these apps each day (your phone may even have an app timer to support you!).

Here are some tips to limit your social media consumption:
→ Try putting your phone away during meals!
→ Try leaving your phone outside your room when you go to bed!
→ Try leaving your phone at home when you go out for a walk, or are talking with someone in your household!

2) Get outside: We all know fresh air does wonders for the body and mind. Can you find time each day to get outside? It doesn’t need to be long. Even 10 minutes can make a difference. Just make sure you bundle up – it’s cold out there!  

3) Move your body: With the cold, wet weather and reduced access to fitness facilities, this one can be hard. You may need to get creative with how you move your body. Have you tried snowshoeing? What about a walk in nature with someone in your household or bubble?   If going outside isn’t an option, what about trying a 10-minute dance party or practicing  a YouTube yoga class in the comfort of your home?

4) Get crafty! Do you have a Pinterest board filled with crafty ideas you’ve pinned for “a rainy day” but haven’t yet tried? Now may be the perfect time to pull out the scissors and glue and get crafting! Some ideas we recommend: Homemade holiday cards, knitting a scarf, or painting one of your favourite photographs.  

5) Try something new: Have you ever been snowshoeing on your local mountain? Have you tried a holiday drink at a local cafe? Have you watched one of those cheesy Hallmark Holiday films? Have you ever tried a Paint by Number? This year may be the perfect year to try something new.  

6) Nourish yourself: It can be easy to fall prey to all the diet/calorie talk at this time of year, especially when those around you may be feeling pressure to avoid overindulging! When we are not nourishing ourselves properly (consistently under eating, overeating, etc.) it can affect our mood by heightening or numbing our feelings/emotions. Remember, it’s normal to eat a bit extra or differently at family events. Give yourself permission to enjoy a meal prepared by loved ones, it’s a great way to connect!  

7) Prioritize sleep: We promise you, sleep is important! With a busier holiday time, it’s easy to find ourselves staying up extra late and/or sleeping in, which confuses our sleep cycles. A good way to keep your sleep on track is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Remember, it’s not all or nothing! It’s ok to stay up a bit later a few nights to participate in fun celebrations. If you struggle to fall asleep, try reading a bit before bed, dimming lights 30 minutes before lights out, or listening to a guided meditation. Try to avoid any action-filled movies, vigorous exercise or heightened conversations right before bed! 

8) Self-Compassion: This one is a big one! It’s easy to think that we must be all ‘Merry and Bright’ this time of year. We hear from so many people that they experience shame about dreading the holidays, wishing they would just pass, or feeling more alone than ever. We want to remind you that everything you feel is valid! You’re allowed to find this time of year difficult and feel a lot of intense emotions. What would it be like to give yourself permission to feel this way? What would it be like to lessen the self-judgement and give yourself compassion in whatever way you need it? 

E.g. “This is hard for me. It’s hard seeing my friends celebrating with their partners and having dinner with their families when I don’t have any of that. I wonder what I could do to make this time enjoyable for me? I really enjoy watching Harry Potter… hmmm I’m going to get into my favourite onesie, make a delicious mug of hot chocolate, and have a movie marathon day!”  

9) Create a support team: This is an opportunity for you to be your own team captain! Who would be good supports for you this holiday season? Perhaps your doctor for medication management? Or your therapist for weekly counselling? How about a safe friend or family member you can call at any time? Remember, you can also add us here at Foundry Virtual to your support team! ?  

10) Reach out! We all need a little love. No one should feel alone this holiday season. A short phone call, a video chat, or a physically distanced visit (while following the current COVID-19 guidelines) can go a long way. Remember, there are lots of ways to get support during this tricky time of year. We are here for you at Foundry, virtually and in-person! ** Please note we are closed on all statutory holidays! ** Kids Help Phone and the Crisis line are also great places to chat with someone on the phone or by text.

Remember, you are not alone this holiday season. Please reach out to us if you need support

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