Creating a Stress Management Plan for Surviving the Holiday Season with Ellia Marcum - E019
Surviving the holiday season is hard. Dealing with stress in the family over the holiday season is real and I don't know about you but I would love to have some tips for creating an effective mental health management plan and making a toxic family survival guide for the holidays.
On today's episode Ellia Marcum, Mental health and Life Crisis Coach is going to share her plan of attack when it comes to surviving the holidays and managing your mental health and well-being in a proactive way. So if you're interested in getting into the holiday season with a plan so you can reduce stress, then this episode is for you my friend!
Go ahead and take a listen to this episode and then message me on Instagram with your biggest takeaway!
TODAY'S GUEST: ELLIA MARCUM
> Ellia's background and why she decided to start helping others overcome their mental health struggles (03:10)
> How to create an effective mental health management plan and toxic family survival guide for the holidays - Step 1: Create your holiday mission statement (05:57)
> Step 2: Write down a list of people you can count on and make sure you schedule ahead of time with those (this might be your coach or therapist or a support group) (08:46)
> Step 3: Make sure you keep up with vitamins and medication (11:24)
> Step 4: Focusing on giving (14:04)
> Step 5: Don't forget to Add "quiet time" to your schedule (15:47)
> Step 6: Adjust your expectations of yourself and your family members during the holiday season (17:40)
> Step 7: Set healthy boundaries with your family members (19:18)
> Step 8: Ask for help (20:31)
E019: Creating a Stress Management Plan for Surviving the Holiday Season
Surviving the holiday season isn’t easy when you have a stressful family. Here are some actionable tips that will help you not only survive, but thrive!
Amy: [00:00:00] I don't know about you, but with the 2020 Christmas season approaching, I know that I'm looking for some tips on how to deal with an overly stressful family. On today's episode, we're going to learn how to do just that. Ellia Markham sits down with me and we talk about all the amazing, beautiful, and very essential tools that you need to have when dealing with your family this holiday season.
Welcome back to this holiday episode of What We're Not Talking About. Now, what does the holiday episode mean? Well, it means that it's the holiday season, and if you're anything like myself, you hate this time of year. Yup. You despise it. And yes, I know. I sound like a Grinch and I've been called this before, but hear me out.
There's people out there who have families that make them feel less than, overwhelmed, or stressed out and like they want to abuse substances. Christmas is not a happy time for them. And if you are one of those individuals, like myself, this episode is specifically for you. However, you might love Christmas and have an overly tolerant family.
But, you still may get majorly stressed out from your racist aunt or a grandmother that keeps asking you when you're going to have children, and you haven't been ready for the battle of telling her that you're not.
Either way, this episode is going to set you up a plan for surviving the holiday season.
Guest Elliot Markham, a mental health and life crisis coach, is going to share her plan of attack when it comes to surviving the holidays and managing your mental health and wellbeing in a proactive way. Instead of getting coal left in your stocking after dumping your glass of red wine on your sexist uncle. Welcome to the show Ellia.
Ellia: [00:02:48] Hello. Thanks for having me.
Amy: [00:02:50] I am very excited that you're with me today. This is going to be a great episode on surviving the holiday season. It's one that I'm going to take notes when we do this, because I'm going to be learning about it too.
So, please, before we really jump into the meat of this podcast, I'd love it if you would tell us a bit about yourself and your family background.
Ellia: [00:03:15] Yeah, for sure. So, I am a certified professional life coach and support group facilitator along with a mental health first responder and coach as well. I started this work from healing my own personal traumas and wanting to really take control of myself and be more self-aware and just thrive more in life.
I grew up in a household that was pretty broken. My mother was an alcoholic and my father is transgendered. I was sexually assaulted when I was in high school and my husband actually ended up having an affair four years into our marriage. So needless to say, I've been through a lot and I just wanted to thrive instead of having these triggers. And dealing with all the insecurities and self-doubt that came with going through those things.
I just wanted to own them.
I wanted to overcome them. So, I started this healing journey years ago and I've learned so much. I decided that it was my mission to help other women and youth overcome these same crises.
Amy: [00:04:41] First of all, I just want to honor you for being able to move through that.
That's a lot to process and to overcome. And as someone who has also a lot of personal trauma, I am so thankful that you are persevering and on this journey and that you are also helping others do the same.
Ellia: [00:05:09] Oh, thank you.
Amy: [00:04:42] Of course! Okay, so now, before we jump in, listeners, I want to make a disclaimer, there are a variety of different levels of toxicity when it comes to your family.
Some, although stressful and frankly disgusting, are unfortunately par for the course when dealing with humanity. Other situations that place a threat to your life need a different approach. If you or someone you know is being abused and fears for their safety, please, please, please contact your local crisis line.
Reach out to someone specializing in home violence and get the help you deserve
Now, Ellia, I'm excited for you to share your system for creating an effective mental health management plan and toxic family survival guide for the holidays. So, I'm going to hand over the microphone for you to share as I'm going to be taking notes and learning for myself on what you have to say about surviving the holiday season.
I'll be sure to ask any clarifying questions along the way.
So, please know that I may politely interrupt you. Are you ready?
Ellia: [00:06:26] I'm ready.
Amy: [00:06:27] Amazing. Take it away.
Ellia: [00:06:30] All right. So the first thing I think that everyone would really benefit from, including myself, is to create your own holiday mission statement. It will help you with surviving the holiday season.
This statement should have your core values front and center. These values are what you want your holiday to look like, what the few things are that you want to remember to focus on during the season. So, write those down and make sure it is visible to remind you that those are the things that you are focusing on, those are your goals for this season, and that's what you're just you're hoping to accomplish.
For example, I wrote one and this is how it goes. It goes, “During the holiday season, I will focus on being mindful of how I may feel and choose to only put myself in peaceful interactions.
I will think of fun things to do with my family and plan and prepare meals ahead of time to minimize the time I spend cooking to optimize spending time with my children.”
My core values in that were mindfulness, peace, and fun. So, those are the things that I wanted. I wanted to be mindful of myself. I wanted it to be peaceful interactions with family.
And I wanted to maximize as much fun as I could have and spend as much time with my loved ones that I could instead of worrying about the long list of to do's that can overwhelm us during the holidays.
Amy: [00:08:08] Hmm. And I really liked how you put fun there because I know Christmas is a fun time, but so many of us forget about that. Especially when we're responsible for other family members as well. So, a great mission statement.
Ellia: [00:08:22] Yes. By writing the mission statement we are really putting focus on what we truly want out of the holidays.
Then we can kind of prioritize and set realistic goals for ourselves to accomplish this mission statement. If that makes sense.
Amy: [00:08:45] Absolutely, yes.
Ellia: [00:08:47] All right.
So the second way you can make a plan on surviving the holiday season is to write down a list of people you can count on and make sure you schedule ahead of time with your coach, your therapist, and your support groups.
If you do not have a support system, I am currently taking new clients and you can also find help at Sevencups.com, Crisistextline.org, projectextreme.org and, opencounseling.com. Almost all of these resources you can text anonymously, if you need help, if you just need support.
Also, like I said, I think it's really a good idea if you start planning ahead of time with the support groups and scheduling with the people that you need to be scheduling with. That's where you'll get the most help and schedule them ahead of time, so you don't get SOL in that they're booked already.
I know personally I am taking new clients, and additionally, I also offer evenings and weekends because I understand how crucial it is and how people's time is precious.
A lot of people don't have that, they're still working. So, during the day they can't go see someone at 11 in the morning while they're at work.
Amy: [00:10:14] Absolutely. Thank you. That's perfect. I think it's very, very important to say that if you feel like you don't have one.. Because anyone, I feel like we all probably have someone, but there's so much shame and stigma sometimes, especially the holidays. And it can definitely help us when it comes to surviving the holiday season.
You get looked down upon if you're not cheery. So, please, reach out.
Ellia: [00:10:35] Well, and a lot of people are busy during the holiday.
Amy: [00:10:39] Yes, that too. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Straight up. Just busy. Yeah. And I don't know if you've been paying attention. This year has been especially hard on a lot of us. So, we might just be tapped out too, so we can't put pressure on people if they are at their breaking point, either.
Ellia: [00:10:58] Yeah, exactly. So, just be mindful of that and really ask yourself “What do I need?” Even if it's just a 30 minute check in every week with someone, it's there if you need it. It's just great to fall back on. So, schedule those in advance. Make that list of people you can count on.
All right. So, our next thing that I'd like to point out is to make sure to keep up with vitamins and medication. I personally take amino acids, inositol, and CBD.
These are all different things that I have tried to just to stay up on and make sure I'm getting enough of them.
Then I'm also prescribed medication as well, and I remember to take those. So it's just a healthy reminder that we need to be taking those, especially when we start to get into that seasonal depression.
It's just a hard time of the year for a lot of people and that is the one thing we need to be doing. Setting an alarm on our phone, if we have a hard time remembering. Writing sticky notes. Just making sure we're taking them, we're taking them consistently, and we're taking them correctly. If you take medication, it’s important to remember to take it so it can help you with surviving the holiday season. So, that's just that little tidbit. All right.
Amy: [00:12:24] Yes, so important.
I just have a quick question, because I don't know what it is. What was it in it? Inositol?
Ellia: [00:12:00] Inositol. So, it's just another supplement. I found out about it from a midwife because I have four kids and I suffered badly from postpartum depression. This was something that a midwife had suggested, like an over-the-counter, you can take anytime you feel like it, basically.
As soon as you're feeling it, it just kind of lifts your mood a little bit. You kind of have to play with the amount that you take because some will feel it at as it's all relative to the person. But it's a good thing to try out.
If you like it, you can just get it at any health food store.
Inositol. And I'm like one of those people that's like, “I'm going to look this up and read all the Amazon reviews.”
Amy: [00:13:26] I've never heard of that. So I'm going to look into it too.
Ellia: [00:13:33] It's pretty cheap too. So, CBD can be really expensive, but Inositol is pretty cheap. And amino acids, there's a couple of different kinds of them, but those are also important to take. I've actually started taking lysine and it's an amino acid. So, I take it three times a day and I've noticed a huge, huge difference for me, which means I was lacking amino acids. I didn't even know it, and I don't even know how you would find that out. But, I gave it a shot anyway.
All right. So, another thing I think we should be doing this season is focusing on giving. Shopping local, donating, and supporting others this holiday season because we also heal when we help, give, and support other people. Especially with small businesses just taking a hit this year, people are losing their jobs. If we can support others, I think it will really, really help us support ourselves at the same time. This way we can help our community with surviving the holiday season.
Amy: [00:14:05] Yes. I think that's so important. And I find that there's a lot of people that are at least where I live in my city that are experiencing really random evictions because they haven't been able to pay their rent, and it's been hard enough.
If you have the means to help others, maybe it's not financially, maybe it's volunteering your time in a safe way.
Of course, I know the pandemic does prevent us from doing that, but if there is a way, it really does help you heal. It just feels so good to help other people feel less alone and less stuck in their circumstance.
Ellia: [00:15:16] Yeah. Sometimes you just kinda, I mean, I don’t know. We know the holidays are coming up and I kind of prepare for that by getting rid of a bunch of stuff.
And I just kind of feel like once we're getting into, which we've already been, getting. stuck in our homes because it's getting colder out. I just get rid of stuff and donate it. So that's just another idea. You are doing great things by donating your gently used items.
All right. So, let's not also forget that we need to be scheduling quiet time. With a lot of people being busy and there's like a lot of demands put on you. Maybe even Zoom calls or meetings online can even be overwhelming sometimes because you have tons of people kind of joining the Zoom calls, everyone's talking. It can be overwhelming. So, don't forget to schedule the quiet time and just rest. Rest is important in your plan of surviving the holiday season.
Amy: [00:16:20] It’s so simple that so many of us overlook, and I think it's important to know that rest doesn't mean lay in bed with your phone or lay in bed with your TV. I mean, maybe for some it does. But there's also a level of quiet time where you can be with just yourself, maybe a book, something that you're not super stimulated.
Ellia: [00:16:41] For sure.
The stimulating is what I would like to emphasize on.
It's the stimulation, because for me personally, when there's a bunch of noise, I get incredibly overstimulated. And if I'm around it enough, my anxiety goes up and I don't realize how much my anxiety has gone up until I take out all the stimulation, remove myself, and sit quietly.
Amy: [00:17:07] Yes, absolutely.
Ellia: [00:17:09] That's how I realized that I was overstimulated and being on my phone does not help. I could be in a quiet room, but if I'm on my phone, I'm still not lowering my stim, my stimulus, my stimuli - I don't know what it is - low enough to where it's lowering my blood pressure and my heart rate and things. So definitely get that non-stimulating quiet time.
All right. And so, I think it's also a great idea if we also adjust our expectations of ourselves and of our family members this holiday season. Because it's hard for everyone and everyone has been affected by something or another this year. So, the expectations are already heavy. A lot of people carry those heavy expectations for themselves.
So. if we can just really cut back the expectations to get a lot done and remember that everyone is going through something one way or another. Go with the flow as much as possible. Offer to help out, even if it's just staying to do a few dishes. This can help others with surviving the holiday season.
Let's remember just to lower the expectations of ourselves and of our family members.
Amy: [00:18:36] Yes. I think that's so important, especially since I'm really hard on myself. And I think that of all the times of the year that we can be a little nicer to ourselves, it’s right now.
Ellia: [00:18:51] Yeah. And again, just helping out, even if it's just staying behind to do a few dishes, that's also giving in a way. It's giving your time, it's helping someone else out. Also, it's just recognizing, even if it's not saying it out loud, that I'm right there with you. It has been a tough one.
Then we have to set healthy boundaries with our family members. It’s critical to surviving the holiday season. Our boundaries are for ourselves to keep ourselves safe, not to control the other person. But our boundaries are to keep ourselves safe and secure and to recognize when something is too much and to really honor where we are in our healing journey.
So, setting boundaries with ourselves, our family members, and just this holiday season will be really, really beneficial. It is one of the biggest ways you can show yourself care and love. Just to remember to also set healthy boundaries when you need to.
Amy: [00:20:11] Yes, so important.
And just to take this moment, the next episode that is coming up is going to be a in-depth “how-to” on how to set healthy boundaries with your family during this time.
So, stay tuned. It's out on Friday
Ellia: [00:20:28] Awesome.
All right. Then, last but not least, ask for help for surviving the holiday season if you need it. Ask for help. I mentioned these crisis lines before. The sevencups.com, crisistextline.org, projectextreme.org, and opencounseling.com. If you are in the United States, you can dial 211 and they will connect you with resources in your area.
Ask for help from friends, family, there is no shame in needing help, needing extra support, needing encouragement. There's no shame in that. It's all right. So please, please reach out and do not go through a hard time by yourself.
Amy: [00:21:17] Yes. So important. And thank you for the reminder because, again, it's been such a hard year for all of us. If you've gotten to a point where you feel like you've never been before and things are starting to feel too much. We got to bite it in the butt now, so reach out. There are so many wonderful trained counselors out there and crisis text line people.
I know people personally, I've gone through the training as well, and it's just something that can be quite helpful.
So please don't hesitate to do that for yourself.
Ellia: [00:21:57] Yes.
Amy: [00:22:00] Awesome. Well, that was so great. I love talking with people who have really been in it, you know? Because it's one thing for people to be like, “Oh yeah, like, do this, do that, do this,” and it's kind of frivolous, it's not really tangible, and doesn't really give you results.
But what we have shared today is something that I believe will be super impactful for anyone that implements this holiday survival plan. So, thank you so much, Ellia for sharing your words of wisdom with us about surviving the holiday season.
Ellia: [00:22:35] Yes, no problem.
Amy: [00:22:37] And I believe you have a fun, I'll call it a freebie, to offer the listeners.
So why don't you tell us a bit about that.
Ellia: [00:22:45] Oh, yes. So, I will be including a December self-care calendar to help you with surviving this holiday season, where every day has something that you can practice and you can do to just help this holiday season be a little bit brighter. And the other page of it is a page to write your holiday mission statement with a couple of values on there that you can look over and use as well to write it.
I also just wanted to let everyone know that you can also find me at Moodwellcoaching.org.
And I'm also on Facebook and Instagram. So it's Mood Well Coaching.
Amy: [00:23:27] Perfect, and all of those links to social, her website, and also the awesome freebie that will help you even more with your holiday survival plan will be available in the show notes in the description below. So you can grab it there.
Ellia, it's been, again, so wonderful having you. Thank you so much for sharing your really tactful advice.
I always love to get the guests to end the podcast, so I'm going to ask you a question and I'm going to hand over the mic. So, please share, you've shared so much, but I'm gonna ask you to share a little bit more.
For everyone that's going into 2021 with a little bit of dread or a little bit of uncertainty or a little bit of depression or whatever. Not fun stuff. What would your words of encouragement be?
Ellia: [00:24:23] My words of encouragement would be that you are on a journey and that there is no destination. So, don't feel rushed to get to an imaginary destination and instead enjoy the journey. Be excited about what you will discover about yourself and all of the things that you're going to learn.