Since the holidays are full of ups and downs, people we love, people we DON’T love, and plenty of other fun “surprises,” we could all use a little reminder of how to stay present and enjoy ourselves, regardless of the situation. Tip #1: Stay Mindful of the right now.  Our minds and bodies get hijacked quickly when we are around certain people and in certain situations.  It’s easier to live in the past and to be scared of the those events repeating than it is to take control of our minds and keep it focused on what is actually happening. The good news is that we can learn to take control of our minds. Yes, it takes more effort because it’s a new skill. Yes, it takes practice and won’t happen automatically.  Yes, the effort is completely worth it. Tip #2: While staying mindful of the right now, take note of any positive that is happening and NOT just letting your attention go to what ISN’T happening, or what is happening that you’re not happy about. Our brains are wired for survival, and if we struggle with depression or anxiety, our brains are overactive in attending to those things we find threatening.  We can practice and learn to notice what feels good, what is  a little sliver of enjoyment, and what we like in any given situation. Tips #3: Accumulate positives. We have a choice in every situation.  (Ok, teenagers may have less choices, but they still have some choices they can make.)  We may not be able to choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them.  While things go on that we may not like, we can choose to add things we DO like, say no to things we don’t like, and find something to laugh at in every moment.  Tip #4: Create a Holiday Survival (Distress Tolerance) Kit in Advance.  Don’t go unarmed to any event you may think is stressful, and don’t leave it up to anyone else to create joy for you.  Before you go to that party, that family member’s house, or stay home alone, create a kit with things that remind you of happy memories, smell good, feel good on your skin, please your taste buds and sound happy.  I always suggest having something in there that makes you laugh or giggle.  Some of these things can be easily accessible and used (see tip #3) to improve your experience in any moment.  And some of them give you a nice break in the midst of stressful situations.  They give you a say.  They help you to care for you. Tip #5: Stay connected with your therapist and supportive network.  It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.  And then stay there.  Choose something different this year.  At Peachtree DBT, we love our jobs and our clients.  We make ourselves available during the holidays and off hours so that we can be part of the hard moments and help you be effective in new ways.  Don’t hesitate to call or text your therapist if you need support, a reminder, or some help.  We do it because we want to, and you are not interrupting our lives. We look forward to helping you throughout the holidays and celebrating new successes with you! Happy holidays!Laura Cunningham, MS, LAPC