Disrupted Holidays

What Went Well
December 7, 2022
Making Hope Tangible
December 21, 2022

Disrupted Holidays

It is a busy time of year – work, buying, wrapping, food prep, cards, decorating (after house cleaning), and all the day-to-day stuff. Perhaps you have set realistic-ish goals and expectations. You have found a way to squeeze in some self-care time and then…. stuff hits the fan.  

There are so many ways life can go wrong: the basement floods, you break your leg, your family member starts to have alarming symptoms that need to be addressed, your employer announces your job is moving to another state. You wake up sick the day you are supposed to host a party. There is never a good time for illness, injury or other disasters to crop up but during the holidays it is even worse.  

Coping With the Unexpected

How do you cope? Plans need to change – but first – take care of yourself. Here are some concrete steps to take that allow you to adjust to the new (unwanted) situation. 

  • Step One: Allow yourself all the feelings.

    Swear, take a walk, vent to a trusted source (24-hour crisis lines are always available), cry, despair, worry, stomp your feet, or sit on the floor and stare into space. After the initial reaction name your feelings as specifically as you can. 

  • Step Two: Clarify the crisis.

    Perhaps the initial disaster is clear, “I broke my hip.” Other crises are less concrete, “There is a situation at work that is a sign of trouble.” List out what you do know, what are some possible outcomes, and where you have questions. Don’t let the anxiety monster catastrophize – by that I mean don’t focus on the worst-case scenario only. 

  • Step Three: Consider priorities.

    What is in your circle of control or influence? What aspect of this is out of your hands? What can you do? Where can you get good advice or information? Who can help? When does this need to be addressed? 

  • Step Four: Adjust your plans.

    New reality requires new plans. Let some things go, delegate tasks to others, focus on your priorities given the altered situation. Ask for help

Repeat steps one through four as often as needed to take care of yourself and the situation. 

Easing the Process

As you work through these steps, here are a few ideas to ease the process: 

Ask a key person to notify others. “Laura asked me to tell you that she will not be able to do X (X being a promised thing) because of a situation that has come up.” 

Tell the Guilt Monster to take a hike. You would have if you could but you can’t and that is ok. Instead of “I am so sorry” try, “I wish I could but it is not possible to do this this year.” And you did not ruin anyone’s holiday. Life happened, that sucks, it is not your fault. 

Compartmentalize. Once you have done steps 1-4 and know what you need to do allow yourself to stuff your worries in a box so you can focus on other things. Think, “I have done what I can for now, I will follow up on this at X time.”  

Prioritize self-care. Stress hits us in the immune system. Do the things that keep you healthier: hydrate, walk, listen to upbeat music, eat fresh fruit and veggies, sleep, take your meds, see your doctor/therapist as needed. 

Know that you are not alone. Crisis of all sorts hit people at the worst times possible. People have all sorts of stories about “the year the holidays were disrupted.”  

I know of several disasters happening within my personal circle of family and friends this week. This blog post (like many others) is coming right out of my real-life experiences. Life is wonderful and awful, joy filled and frustrating. My personal goal is to do the four steps above as often as needed and to enjoy beauty and delight wherever I find it. I hope you have no disasters in your life, and if you do, may you have all the resources you need to deal with them.


Laura A. Gaines

To learn more, explore learnmodelteach.com for tools, videos, and courses.