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Coping with Holiday Stress and Triggers
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs
– Define Relapse
– Identify exacerbating and mitigating factors for relapse
– Explore unique relapse triggers and traps during the holidays

Holiday Stress
– Stress triggers the HPA-Axis
– HPA-Axis triggers
– Fight (anger) or flee (anxiety) or f*** it (depression)
– Immune system suppression
– Inflammation from ongoing stress
– Dysphoria
– Low energy
– Pain
– Reactive behaviors to avoid or numb distress (addiction, risky behaviors, withdrawal)

What is Relapse
– Relapse is the recurrence of symptoms for health, mental health or addictive issues
– Physical/Behavioral (sleep, appetite, pain, substance use, failing to relax)
– Affective (dysphoria)
– Cognitive (pessimism, inflexibility, mindlessness, cravings/longings)
– Environmental (staying in darkness, old places)
– Relational (old people or ways of interacting, overcommitting from guilt or fear, withdrawal from positive supports)
– Relapse warning signs are the recurrence of these symptoms
– Relapse warning signs indicate a vulnerability for relapse

Handling Holiday Triggers
– Loneliness
– People are shopping for everyone else
– Shop for the less fortunate / adopt a family or a shelter pet
– People are going to family gatherings
– Find other people without a place to go and invite them over
– Go hiking
– Commune with your higher power
– Video conference
Unique Triggers Around Holidays
– Abundant Food and Drink
– Don’t go famished
– Stay as far away from the buffet table as you can
– Eat mindfully if you have to eat
– Avoid eating out of stress
– Choose lower calorie and less processed options
– Get very small helpings
– Bring a healthier dish to potlucks
– Actively sip on water
– Have a battle buddy
– Play the tape through
– Cook at your own house (and send the leftovers away)

– Media tells people that this “should be” the happiest time of the year
– Holidays highlight losses, loneliness, financial stresses
– Relapse prevention involves
– People knowing what their first signs of relapse are
– Preventing getting rundown and vulnerable
– Setting healthy boundaries
– Addressing issues of rejection, isolation and failure
– Setting positive, proactive goals
– Emotional
– Cognitive
– Behavioral

Video by Dr. Dawn Elise Snipes on integrative behavioral health approaches including counseling techniques and skills for improving mental health and reducing mental illness.

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