Surviving the holidays: a bit like surviving the great outdoors. Tips to help you with both!

Whether surviving nature or another year of festivities, it’s essential to be prepared. Below we offer some tips that are applicable in the wild outdoors and in the wild living room during family get-togethers.

Survival Tip #1 - Bring Extra Layers

The temperature can fluctuate quite a bit in the great outdoors. It’s advisable to dress in layers that can be added or removed as necessary for comfort.

The same is true when we gear up to leave our homes and face each day. Before we walk out the front door, it’s important to check in with ourselves emotionally. Sometimes extra layers can be useful. For instance, music and headphones can serve as a nice layer between yourself and the world on days when you need a little buffer space. If you’re emotionally depleted, but you’ve still got a day ahead of you, start with the easy stuff and build up some steam. Give yourself little rewards along the way, and be tender with yourself - you deserve it.

Survival Tip #2 - Emergency Strikes

Sometimes no amount of planning, preparedness or lived experience can compensate for the unpredictability of nature. You’ve given it your best go, and now you’re lost, you’ve run out of food and your ankle is caught in a bear trap. A bear trap named Uncle Denny. Now what?

Step One - Don’t Panic

When adrenaline strikes, you literally lose the ability to think clearly and problem solve. A pounding heart diverts blood away from the brain and into the limbs, as the body enters fight or flight mode. It’s important to remember that your brain isn’t one hundred percent on your side during these moments. So, if you’re upset by something a family member says, or if you have an anxiety attack due to the stress of the season, take a moment to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What do you need? Prioritize yourself.

Step Two - One Step at a Time

Now that you’ve asked yourself what you need you can make a plan. Take this plan exactly one step at a time. Spend your energy focusing on making it through each moment.

Step Three - You Can Do This

It’s true, you can. Don’t let self-doubt get the best of you. Focus on the moment. Focus on each step.

Step Four - Signal for Help

Send up a flare. Call a friend, sometimes it’s easier to take steps together.

Survival Tip #3 - Know the Resources and the Dangers of Your Environment

Life in the wild requires us to recognize the signs of both danger and abundance. There’s technical know-how, including skills such as, ‘how to tell edible mushrooms and berries from poisonous ones,’ and ‘signs of nearby foraging bears.’ Then, there’s an equally powerful, much more innate skill set. These are the reflexes and reactions that come to us naturally, like when you can tell that your sister is in one of her moods again. It’s important to see these signs for what they are, and to respond accordingly. If a person or situation makes you uncomfortable or gives you anxiety, it’s okay to excuse yourself. Listen to those alarm bells.

When nature provides excess, it’s sensible to store it away for harder days with fewer resources. Plan for the days, events and people you know will be difficult by building in extra resources and recovery time. If you know a holiday get together is going to take everything out of you, schedule yourself a recovery day.

Survival Tip #4 - Adapt and Overcome

Not everything in life can be anticipated.

When you’re caught off guard by something difficult or challenging, be patient with yourself and your feelings. Your compassion for yourself is one of the greatest resources that you have. It’s okay if you’re scared and you don’t know what to do. Think about it. Write about it. Talk to a friend about it, because oftentimes, as we process our emotions, a solution emerges.

In short, you can beat winter by listening to yourself (that’s right - you’re a regular survival guru). If a person, place or scenario becomes uncomfortable, ask yourself what you need to feel safe and then allow yourself to have it. Don’t forget to call a friend if you need the support! Consider declining invitations to events you truly don’t wish to attend. And, if you don’t have the luxury of avoiding people, places or events that make you uncomfortable, remember to bring extra layers, to take it one step at a time and to build in a recovery plan. Above all else, no matter what happens, be gentle with yourself! You’ve got this.

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