3 Tips For When You’re Feeling All of the Feels This Holiday Season

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The holidays can bring on feeling all of the feels, some comfortable and some not so much! This goes for adults AND kids which can make for an added burden during an already overwhelming time of year. So how do we manage those uncomfortable feelings and help our kids do the same? We develop our emotion coaching skill set so we both model and teach them how to do the same! 

One of the questions I ask participants when I’m presenting on Trauma Informed Care and anything Social and Emotional Intelligence is, “How many of you were taught the steps to tie your own shoes? Ride a bike? Drive a car?” These are all relatively important life skills that we put a lot of effort into teaching our kids, yet many of us didn’t get a helpful education in a very essential life skill – how to process emotions in healthy ways.

Instead, what most of us picked up as kids through observation, imitation, and repetition was how to ignore, stuff down, distract, and numb our way through uncomfortable feelings instead of feeling all of the feels in a healthy way.

At this point in time, we have enough research to back up the claim that processing our emotions in healthy ways increases our quality of life in so many ways – our mental and physical health is improved and relationships have more possibility of thriving. Processing emotions in healthy ways is simple, yet not always easy. Until it is! The more we practice these steps, the more we unlearn our unhelpful (even harmful) ways of managing uncomfortable feelings, the easier it gets.

As parents, our most important job is to help our kids learn how to regulate their emotions so they can access the parts of their brains that help them learn academically, socially, and emotionally. Research shows that if children are self-aware and self-regulated, they are more successful in all aspects of life. Let’s just say that we get the most bang for our buck when we invest time and energy into modeling and teaching them these really important skills. But we have a problem! Because most of us parents never got a helpful education in how to process feelings in helpful ways, so how in the world can we model and teach them how to safely feel all of the feels themselves? So let’s dig in!

 

Steps for Processing Emotions in Healthy Ways:

#1 Pause, Check In

This first step can be the hardest! Many of us have wiring to react in certain ways to certain uncomfortable feelings. To disrupt those patterns, we need to invite the pause. When I pause, I’m taking deep breaths to get as much oxygen to my brain as possible and let my brain and body just take a beat.

 

#2 – Connect with the Feelings

Identifying the uncomfortable feelings as accurately as your ability allows lets your brain know you’re picking up what it’s putting down. Feelings are just information from the brain; it’s the meaning we make of the feelings that increases our discomfort. All feelings are okay; it’s what we say and do with them that matters! A great tool for this practice is a feelings chart or wheel.

 

#3 – Soothe Your Nervous System with a Feel Good Plan

We aren’t meant to feel good all of the time, but could we feel better more often? Absolutely. If I identify having anxiety at an 8 on a scale of 1-10, I will want to take care of my nervous system with some healthy coping strategies before I do anything else. A “Feel Good Plan” is a list of things we can think, say, and do to take care of our brain and bodies. This tool might seem simple and silly but having a visual to consistently remind your brain that you want to process your feelings in more healthy/helpful ways is just a brain hack. It makes the process of disrupting old patterns that much easier! There are three things that should be on everyone’s plan (movement, helpful self talk, and deep breaths) and two things I suggest NO ONE has on their plan (vices and screens).

Once you’ve moved through the process and have hopefully lowered the intensity of the uncomfortable feelings a few notches, then you will be in a much more regulated place to navigate whatever experience brought on the discomfort in the first place. You can find more information about this process and particular step, including Feel Good Plan examples, on my website

Parents, this is work we can lean into our whole lives AND it’s possible to comfortably experience feeling all of the feels pretty quickly within ourselves and help our kids do the same with some intentional effort. That way, no matter what is happening around us (the holidays, a new year, challenging kid behavior, challenging adult behavior, etc.) we can be more emotionally stable. 

Does this holiday season have you feeling all of the feels? Let us know in the comments below!

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Cher Anderton
Cher Anderton (she/her) is a passionate speaker, parent coach and therapist who, in addition to this work, offers employee wellness support and parent education to companies, organizations and individuals through consulting and an online parent education membership. Cher has helped countless humans grow their social and emotional fluency so they can experience more joy and connection in their personal and professional lives! Outside of work, Cher can be found missing her children who have flown/are flying the coop, digging into community work, flying to see other people she misses, dreaming up DIY projects and adventuring anywhere and doing anything that doesn’t involve heights. Great food, great company and great conversation are three of her most favorite things, especially when they all come together! You can find out more about Cher and stay in touch with her through her newsletter at cheranderton.com.

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