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Combating Stressors and Enjoying Holiday Gatherings

The holiday season is in full swing! Many of our clients celebrate Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years. During these holiday’s many gather with friends and family. Sometimes gatherings can be stressful and overwhelming. Who will be there? What are we going to do together? Is there food that I like? What do I talk about? These are a few of the many questions and concerns that our clients ask themselves. It can be daunting to anticipate holiday parties and tempting to avoid these situations altogether. It’s important to recognize your own stressors and to seek help or advice so that you can grow as a person by further developing social skills and flexibility. Here at iElevate Coaching and Consulting, we have compiled a short list of two potential stressors and advice for the holiday season.

  1. Conversations: This is a stressor that many individuals worry about. Many who will be seeing distant family members ask, “What do I talk to someone about who I see only once a year?” This is a valid question because they likely do not know details about your life so the conversation may seem very surface level. We suggest opening the conversation up or directing it towards your schooling/ education, your current job or career aspirations. It’s important to also remember to ask them questions about themselves. A conversation is like playing on a seesaw but the person at the top is talking. In order for everyone to have fun or enjoy themselves, everyone needs an equal amount of time at the top. This is also true for conversations with friends or peers. With friends, peers or coworkers, the aim of the conversation may be about finding something you share in common. Once a commonality is uncovered, work that into other areas of conversation. For example, if you both enjoy reading Harry Potter, after discussing the book series, maybe ask the other person if they like movies or other book series. Remember that conversations are fluid and that you should never try to control them. Rather, you should do your best to “go with the flow”.

  2. Planning or Change of Routine: Almost no one enjoys a change in routine... For many the unexpected or unknown can be scary. Unfortunately, the holidays are full of surprises and unknowns. One way to combat the unknown of holiday parties is to ask the host questions. It’s important to not overwhelm the host or to give a list of demands. Instead, you should ask the host questions like, “Is there anything I should know about the party? What is the dress code? Is there a theme?” In addition, you may ask the host, “Is there anything I can bring to help you, like food or ice?” This offer may allow the host to explain food plans or activity plans as well as it is a way to seem like a gracious guest.

Some general advice is to do something to make yourself comfortable. Make sure to dress in something that makes you feel confident and comfortable. When picking what you are going to wear, it is important to stay mindful of the dress code. Sometimes the dress code is not always explicitly mentioned but you may ask the host or another attendee what they are planning to wear. If you tend to find yourself getting overwhelmed or overstimulated in social gatherings, please refer to our previous blog post by clicking here. The linked blog post has strategies and advice to combat sensory overload. In addition you can click here to read a previous blog post on forming a healthy sleep routine. Having a good night's rest before a holiday gathering can allow you to have a clearer headspace and better decision making skills. In summary, to prepare for a holiday gathering, you should dress confidently, have coping strategies in place, and get at least 8 hours of sleep prior to the event.

While this blog post did not include all potential holiday stressors nor did it have every possible appropriate solution or strategy it’s a great start for preparing for a holiday function. If you find yourself in the preparatory stage or if you are having any difficulty or discomfort with socializing, especially during the holiday season, please reach out to Danielle Feerst OTR/L by clicking here to book a FREE 30 minute consultation. She has years of experience working with young adults who are working towards a meaningful life. Along with her Peer Mentors, Danielle and the rest of iElevate have several other ideas, experience and expertise on working with young adults with social emotional learning differences to promote living a fully engaged life. In addition, you can connect with us on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If you have any ideas for future blog posts, feel free to message us on any of our social media accounts or email us at .

Written by Madison Gies, Peer Mentor/Coach, OTDS

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