Have you already made your Thanksgiving plan phone calls? Have you been squeezing in your research on ticket deals and texts about what desserts to bring on your breaks ? Have you been holding a conversation with yourself in the back of your mind about what you’ll wear?
In the background of all this planning is there also a growing lump in your throat of anxiety over the possibility of seeing that certain person or persons with which you chronically have frustrating experiences with, holiday after holiday?
Do you somehow wish the endearing people in your life didn’t manage to be connected to those people?
In a perfect world (but not really) we could have our holiday experience uniquely customized to our liking much like our phone settings.
I have one question for you
How do you take care of yourself emotionally when in social situations?
In the same way you show up for your loved ones for the holidays, do you show up for yourself WHILE with them?
Today I’m suggesting you come prepared with what I call a social hangover self care kit.
Yes that’s right, hangover because that’s exactly what it feels like when you need to recover from interacting with certain people and you know what I’m talking about! Social hangover is real.
What I know for sure is that there is power in preparation and along with my past post on planning your social self care, today I’m going one step further and suggesting that you actually, physically pack a social hangover self care kit.
You Be the Biggest Influence on You!
The intention is to use that kit to proactively influence your own internal dialogue and feelings during those habitually stressful, but unavoidable social situations. In the same way we pack our purse and make sure it has our essentials of wallet, keys, lotion and lip balm etc, why not carry a small pouch that is full of travel-friendly-self-care supplies?
I’m all for purely mental tools and self development strategies that are strictly used internally, yet research shows that when it comes to anxiety and stress, the act of working with your hands has been proven to soothe and prevent our cortisol levels from rising and tipping us into fight or flight mode as I shared in this post. I know for me physically engaging with something as abstract as my internal world through objects helps me to hold on to that centered state longer.
A kit of this nature does best when the tools bring us into our body and the best way I know of doing that is by tapping into our senses.
For smell you can pack a scent that is soothing to you through an essential oil like peppermint, lavender, orange, bergamont or my all time favorite rose.
For taste bring some treats that are travel pack friendly and help keep your blood sugar in check like one piece of dark chocolate, your favorite gum or mints etc.
For hearing you can make sure to prepare a playlist on your phone that you know are guaranteed to bring you back to your happier more centered self. Pack your audio buds and listen to the sounds while you munch on that treat you packed.
For sight and touch my favorite tool is a pocket notebook. These can be used in so many ways. The blank page is a place of magic and although it’s simplicity and small size seem deceivingly benign, its power and effectiveness are that much more powerful.
Our thoughts are what most impact our experiences and when we take proactive action to influence our thoughts, we begin to shape our experience. When we carry and use a notebook, especially in stressful times, that notebook serves as a container for our own internal dialogue. That notebook is a place to hold the ongoing conversation we are having with ourselves about our life. That notebook becomes a very personal and dynamic environment second to the environment between our ears we shape and in the process shapes us.
Ideas on how to use a pocket journal for social self care before the social event.
- Draw a feeling you want to maintain while at the gathering and during your stressful interactions
- Sketch a comic strip of how things usually pan out in your difficult social interactions and make another comic strip of the new way you’d like it to be. The beauty of drawing is that you can draw what you feel so if you’re angry as heck you can draw yourself being triggered by someone with flames blazing through your eyes and ears. It’s extremely therapeutic to create symbols put to words for what you experience inside of you.
- Make lists of:
- what you intend for yourself while at that social event,
- how you will reward yourself for riding out the bumpy parts of your holiday with as much grace as you can muster.
- early stress responses your body is giving to redirect you or the situation(breathing heavy, face getting hot, hands clenched, fidgeting foot etc)
- write out boundary phrases you could use if needed
- make a 2 page collage spread of all the things you love about yourself and your life
- make another one of the new things you intend to bring into your life
- add wallet size pictures of loved ones, trips to places you’ve enjoyed
- copy down quotes that inspire you and remind you to be kind to yourself
Ideas on how to use a pocket journal for social hangover during the event (while taking that breather)
- Refer to the pages you prepared before the event and allow yourself to take them in and bring up in you the feelings they intended to bring up.
- Write 5 things you’re grateful for
- Write 5 accomplishments you’re proud of
- Write where you’re currently at emotionally and how you plan on getting back on track with having a good time when you return to the gathering.
This pocket notebook is meant to remind you of who you are when you’re at your best so you can return to that. The notebook is a place where your present self speaks to your future self. Let that notebook be the most encouraging, uplifting, soothing, gentle and kind dialogue you could create through word and image, for yourself.
Preparation helps us enter a situation with more deliberateness, intention, clarity and presence. Many times in chronicly difficult situations, we feel disempowered before we’re even in the situation because we already anticipate the difficulty. Preparing a social hangover kit in advance, helps keep our well being in tact BEFORE we enter those situations and returns the power back in our hands. After having invested so much loving time in your social hangover kit, you may find you may not even use it because just knowing it’s there is enough to change the way you approach your interactions and that alone makes the difference.
How have you broken a pattern of habitually stressful social interactions with a certain person?
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